Matthew 25: 31-46 is one of my favorite Gospel passages. When I was considering a life in ministry, it was this passage that helped me say yes to the call God placed on my life.
My Aunt Clairette was an awesome woman. She became a minister in the early 1960s, and served as the Associate Pastor at a church in Columbus, Ohio. With her husband Harry Woodson, she led Wednesday night Prayer Services and was the preacher for the Sunday evening service. She was also a baker for the Lazarus department store. In the evenings she took orders for pies and cakes each week.
She made the best cinnamon rolls in the world. A couple times a year, she would bake a couple dozen rolls, and send them to our home the same day. She’d call my dad, her brother, to let him know that the rolls would be delivered on the next Greyhound bus. And to thank the bus driver, she would also bake a ½ dozen rolls for him.
My aunt never learned how to drive. She took the taxi or the bus everywhere. Once, just as the taxi arrived at her house, her foot slipped and the driver rode over her ankle, crushing it. He was devastated. I don’t remember if he took her to the hospital or called an ambulance. And though her ankle never fully healed, my aunt never blamed the driver. In fact, she made sure that she sent him a Christmas card each year. She would also bake a special pie for him whenever he stopped by to see how she was doing.
And for several years, when my oldest sister was unable to raise her child, my aunt was willing to take her in. She never had any children of her own and was delighted to foster my niece. As I grew older, I came to understand that my aunt was the embodiment of Matthew 25: 31-46. She showed loving kindness to others. In her own way, she sought to make their lives better through praying, preaching, baking, sewing, cooking and cleaning. And I don’t think she ever thought about the difference she made in the lives of those around her.
I don’t tell her story as often as I should. She was more than a pioneer as one of the first female ministers in Columbus. She shared her gifts with others. Not only her baking and sewing. My aunt would retell stories from the Bible and quote Scripture to frame what she was experiencing throughout the day. She dedicated her life to being a servant of our Lord who called her and each of us by name.
This year’s Annual Conference is about celebrating the ways we are making a difference for those we serve. Whether we are worshiping in person or through the internet, may we share stories of how the mission and ministry of our faith communities is transforming lives. And Amen.