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Living out ‘response ability’

By Mary Bridges, chaplain

NOTE: Our featured chaplain for November is Mary Bridges, chaplain at Salina Presbyterian Manor. Each month, we share a devotion from one of the chaplains around the PMMA system in a nod to our faith-based roots in the Presbyterian Church.

My father, Henry, was an eighth-grade graduate and smarter than anyone I have known. He was a lifelong Lutheran. He did not verbalize his faith or quote scripture; he simply lived it, every day. He cared for my grandmother when she lived alone. She was eventually diagnosed with dementia and moved into a nursing home. My father continued to visit her, even though she didn’t recognize him and no longer spoke.

My father loved the land. After he retired from active farming, he leased a small amount of land north of Russell on Salt Creek. There he had a huge garden, and he shared his garden produce with everyone. One year, he raised turkeys. That November, he and my mom cleaned and dressed more than 20 turkeys, which my father distributed to family, friends and people he knew were struggling. He reserved one of those turkeys for a man who stopped to help my father change a tire earlier that year.  

That Thanksgiving season, and every day, my father exercised what the Rev. Richard J. Fairchild calls our, “response ability” that is the result of His goodness.

“Our ancestors in faith — from Sarah to Mary and from Abraham to Jesus all were convinced that God is the source of everything, and that by graciously giving all things to us, God provides us with a response ability,” Fairchild writes.

That’s the ability to respond to God and to others, Fairchild says. God hopes we will use this ability “for the good that he intends for us and for the good that he intends for our neighbors and our world.”

My father grasped this innately, and we all felt it: his family and his neighbors, certainly, and I firmly believe he showed the world God’s great goodness.

I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings. I will close with more wisdom from Rev. Fairchild:

“In the hard times you see, we still have so much, we have life, no matter how slenderly we may hold to it, we have family and friends, no matter how scattered, we have community, no matter how it is organized and we have the presence of God and the promise of Jesus Christ that when we seek first God's kingdom and God's righteousness, that all that we need will be added unto it.”

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