Super Sheila

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing it’s worth!
It sounds like music in my ears,
The sweetest name on earth!
Oh, how I love Sheila!
Oh, how I love Sheila!
Oh, how I love Sheila!
‘Cause 23 kids counted on me!

 

What?

That’s right. Sheila is the best. And Nancy totally agrees with me. I mean, sure, I love my wife, but Sheila? She. Is. Super. She’s Super Sheila!

Stranded by our cancelled Frontier flight in Salt Lake City at the end of our 9 day mission trip, we were suddenly faced with how to get 23 weary kids—and 6 very weary chaperones—back home.

Enter Sheila from Southwest. Excuse me…Super Sheila.

Super Sheila (and her trusty sidekick, Tyler) began to work their magic on the computer. Twenty nine people total. Six groups max to provide one chaperone per group. Fingers blurred across her keyboard as she pulled up every possible way into Atlanta in the next 24 hours. Two seats here through Los Angeles, eight seats there through Denver…another two, another twelve. No, wait, someone just claimed two of those, now it’s ten.

“They’d have to be here at 5:30am for the first flight out.”

“Book it!”

Two down, twenty-seven to go.

After almost an hour and a half of browsing and booking, searching and seating, all twenty nine of us were ticketed. Nancy’s and Matt Headley’s groups left the hotel at 5:00am, hopefully to arrive in Atlanta at 5:30pm. Katie, Kelli, and Anne’s groups were sprinkled throughout the day, all the way to the last flight departing at 4:30pm and arriving at 12:30am.

The final four youth and I arrived well ahead of our scheduled 4:30pm departure and were making our way to the gate—the farthest gate—when we heard our names over the loud speaker. We broke into a sprint, fearful that our flight had been altered yet again. It had.

We arrived breathless at the counter to see Super Sheila smiling and saying, “Remember me? You’re not going to believe this, but the 2:30 flight—which was full last night—now has 5 spaces for some reason. So I printed new passes and you’re good to board in about 5 minutes. And you should get home about 10:30pm.” Wow. Just wow. Super Sheila is amazing.

After she had ticketed the whole group the previous night, Super Sheila commented that cancelled flights tend to bring out the best or the worst in people. She complemented us saying, “You guys  have been so nice through this whole process. Most people aren’t.”

I’m pretty sure Sheila was only seeing what we had been practicing all week. (https://stevecothran.wordpress.com/2018/06/25/what-a-trip/)

And Super Sheila–a stranger–caught a glimpse of the Messiah too.

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What. A. Trip.

What. A. Trip.

(It was so good in fact, that we were starting to fear that it might not ever come to an end. But that’s another story so back in a bit.)

It was an incredible week on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation with Central Baptist Youth sharing God’s love with children during VBS each morning and then working each afternoon to improve the Eagle’s Hope shelter. Thirty youth and adults living together for 9 days, learning how to love others—and ourselves.

One thing we have learned this week is how to imagine what it might look like if the Messiah were part of our group. What if the Messiah were one of our friends? What would we see happening and what would we do ourselves? What if it were us? As followers of Jesus, shouldn’t we be always act that way?

One of my good friends in Youth Ministry shared an idea based on a story told by M. Scott Peck called “The Rabbi’s Gift.” Read it here: http://philipchircop.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/the-rabbis-gift/

Our youth have demonstrated insight and compassion this week by looking for the Messiah in their midst each day. They passed 2 crosses among each other, presenting them randomly throughout the day whenever they saw one of their peers acting like they thought the Messiah would.

And then, during our nightly devotions, they retraced the day and how the crosses had traveled among the group while they worked. A small kindness here, a good attitude there. Hard work, volunteering, no complaints.

This past Friday night, everyone got a cross to take home as a reminder of their calling to look for the Messiah in others—and perhaps to be the Messiah to someone else.

I hope you’ll join us in our quest. Keep your eyes open. Your chance to see the Messiah is always right in front of your eyes.

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A visual memorial to a day that changed our world. As we remember this tragedy 16 years later, we are reminded of the thousands suffering the devastation of Irma and Harvey whose prayer is still “Great God, be small enough to hear me now.”

Come close, and hear our prayers, O Lord.

Small Enough

Eclipsing Racism

Some words I shared last night with the NC Legislature after the US Supreme Court’s unanimous judgment that our districts stand out as the most egregiously racially divided in the nation:

I don’t know if y’all heard about this, but there was a total solar eclipse yesterday!

That means the 2 celestial bodies that provide light to our world—in an incredibly rare display—worked together yesterday, and the results were life altering!

Millions of Americans—millions—stood in awe to catch just a glimpse of this magnificent phenomenon. For many people, this was a once in a lifetime event.

Yesterday, I stood in the backyard where I grew up in South Carolina, and during totality, we were able to look directly at the sun for over 2 minutes. How on earth is that possible?

It’s possible because these 2 bodies worked together—and the world was amazed at the result!

You—the NC legislature—have the same power to amaze the world—by working together!

I know. It’s as rare—sorry, it’s more rare than a solar eclipse. But for the people of NC—the people you represent…or the people you should be representing—for these people it will truly be even more life-changing.

And it will also be life-changing for you…our representatives. Because that means you will have to give up some of your power, and that is scary because you might not be the most powerful “light in the sky” anymore, but oh, what a wonderful opportunity that would open up for the people of North Carolina whom you claim to serve!

We don’t even have time to ponder how immoral it is for people “elected” by illegal racially gerrymandered maps to then be “allowed” to redraw those maps. It would be like coming home to find your child had eaten your entire birthday cake. And your reply? That was wrong!

Do you want some ice cream with that?

There are black brothers and sisters in this room today…Thank God! And how is that possible? It’s possible because of the moral courage of 4 young men at a Woolworth’s lunch counter right up the road from here.

Do we think you will have that same moral courage to do the right thing and fix this? You are fast creating a lot of cynics here, but we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t believe you can…and will repudiate racism instead of eclipsing equality.

Otherwise, it’s just about white supremacy, and you’ll be redrawing these maps not by the bright light of freedom, but by the dim wick of a tiki torch while you mutter… “We will not be replaced.”