On Sunday, October 27th, 2013, five Calvary Confirmands were Affirmed in Baptism. Each took part in leading worship and made a personal statement of faith. Anna Chamberlain agreed to share hers here:
A reading from Deuteronomy 6:
4Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
To me my faith is best experienced through community: my friends, family, the congregation. Whether it’s my Papa saying the prayer at Thanksgiving, my Grandma singing with me in church, or way back when we first came to Calvary with my surrogate grandparents and automatically meeting my first best friend Avery—who has been a part of my faith journey my whole life, and now is confirming her faith beside me.
When I think of my faith, I could say so many things. Growing up in this church has made it easy to see God in everything I do. Whether it’s being outside with the warm fall colored leaves, or serving others at Shoshone. I’ve been going back to a scene in my head where I was having a lousy Sunday morning, so I go to the front row in Deeper Life, standing there holding my Mom’s hand and praising the Lord through singing my heart out. I remember the time my older sister told me I could wear jeans to church because God doesn’t care about small things like that. He loves you no matter what.
Which brings me to another point: At first, I struggled with my faith, feeling like so much was expected from me being the pastor’s kid. I wanted to not go to church, push everything away, including God. For some reason it didn’t work. I’m sure you know why too. God doesn’t leave your side. When you don’t believe in him for whatever reason, he still believes in you. And that’s what happened. Notice (most Sunday mornings) I get out of bed for church. There’s a calling for me. Not only was God calling me back to this place where I feel most at home , but I heard everyone who’s been part of my faith journey calling: The constant texts from Avery, “Your coming to church, right?!” Or, my Mom telling me how, no matter how much homework I had, it’s still important that I get to Confirmation. I’ve not only maintained my relationships with people who are a part of this journey, but also having friends come to worship with me has been important too.
All of you have been a part of my faith journey, and now that I am here confirming my faith, I understand that God was at work through you to meet me where I was. And I am sure he will continue to do that. And for that I am thankful.
Janet Freeman-Daily spoke to the Calvary congregation in October 2013, as part of the Stewardship Season on the theme for 2013: Gratitude.
My name is Janet Freeman-Daily, and I’m grateful to be here. I’m grateful to be ANYwhere. I’m grateful to be ALIVE. The fact that I’m alive is a modern-day medical miracle.
In May of 2011, after a few months of a persistent cough, I was diagnosed with pneumonia caused by advanced lung cancer. No, I never smoked anything except a salmon. Five months after diagnosis, despite chemo and radiation, the cancer spread outside my chest and I was given at most two years to live. A year later, after more treatment and another recurrence, I learned my cancer had a rare mutation. Last October, I found a clinical trial that could treat that mutation with an experimental pill, and I flew to Denver to get it. In January, I achieved the dream of all metastatic cancer patients: No Evidence of Disease. My cancer is no longer detectable.
I am overwhelmingly grateful for everything and everyone that has brought me to this state of grace: medical science that discovered new ways to treat my condition, insurance that paid for most of my care, family and friends who supported me, a knowledgeable online lung cancer community, and all the prayer warriors lifting me up throughout my cancer journey. Thank you. I am truly blessed.
I am not cured. The trial drug only suppresses my cancer, and I have some permanent side effects. I’ll be in treatment for the rest of my days. Clinical trials will hopefully keep me feeling relatively comfortable and capable for many months – even years. I am satisfied with living however long I might have.
Being given a second chance at life tends to give one a different perspective. Colors are brighter. A warm breeze rustling the trees makes the whole day worthwhile. Time spent with family and friends becomes precious.
A second chance also makes one introspective. Why was I spared when others died? Why does my mutation have an effective treatment when others don’t? Why am I able to see one of the best lung cancer doctors in the world when many patients can’t afford proper treatment?
Why am I still here? What purpose does God have for me?
Part of the answer to why I’m still here is, I am blessed with gifts that help me survive my cancer journey. I’m able to understand the medical science and my treatment. I’m able to explain what I’ve learned. And I’m able to advocate for myself with healthcare providers.
Yet I am just a steward of these gifts that God bestowed on me. Understanding my gifts has led me to God’s purpose for me: I am here to help other lung cancer patients. I strongly feel this is my calling in the time I have left.
Lung cancer has a stigma attached to it. Few people know that 80% of those newly diagnosed with lung cancer are nonsmokers or never smokers. There is more to lung cancer than just smoking. Yet we are the lepers of the cancer community.
For this reason, some patients are ashamed to admit they have lung cancer. Most don’t know about the new treatments like the one I’m taking–even some doctors don’t know. Patients don’t know where to turn for answers.
Lung cancer patients need more than compassion. They need information. They need HOPE.
After considerable thought, I decided the best way to use my gifts was to go public about my lung cancer. At first, I only shared my story online with friends and lung cancer communities. Eventually I started blogging — which is essentially a journal open to the world on the Internet — and began speaking publicly about my cancer.
Going public with my lung cancer experience has already had an impact. As I’d hoped, it shows patients that people can live with metastatic lung cancer, and encourages them to ask questions about their treatment.
But going public has also brought completely unexpected blessings. It helps families understand what their loved ones who have lung cancer are experiencing. It gives hospital chaplains insight into their patients’ needs and feelings. It demonstrates to doctors that patients can be partners in their own care. It reveals to researchers how their work makes a difference in the lives of real patients.
In addition, I’ve realized a personal health benefit in sharing the gifts God gave me to steward. Having a purpose gets me through the tougher parts of cancer treatment. It won’t heal my cancer, but it does help me live a healthier, happier life.
And it all started with being grateful that I’m alive.
~ Janet Freeman-Daily
Janet’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/janet.freemandaily
Janet’s Blog: http://grayconnections.wordpress.com
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. - Luke 17:15-16
Gratitude. That’s the theme for our upcoming Stewardship Season. Webster’s defines gratitude as a noun meaning appreciation. Synonyms include acknowledgement, appreciativeness, grace, gratefulness, honor, indebtedness, obligation, praise, recognition, requital, response, responsiveness, sense of obligation, thanks, thankfulness, thanksgiving.
Take the leper in the story from Luke: He didn’t have much to be grateful for. Banished from his community because of his illness, already an outsider in Israel because he was one of those “half-breed” Samaritans, and desperate not to die; he reaches out to the one man who will acknowledge his existence, Jesus. And, knowing full well that his life is in this “Master’s” hands (not just his potential restored health, but his recovery of a full life in which other human beings can again look him in the eye), he grovels for what he can’t earn. And Jesus, who loves his Father’s world, gives the man what he needs.
Here’s the catch, though. This man was only one of ten for whom Jesus accomplished this incredible restoration. And the other nine simply split from the scene: They went to their priest so that the priest could attest to there healing and declare them ritually clean. They went through the “legal” (ritual Jewish) process to be restored to their communities, and had their health and the priest’s stamp of approval to demonstrate that they were “in” again. But none of the nine said “thanks.” Only the one acted. Only this one stooped before Jesus, honoring the One who was the source of his new life, and then spoke words of gratitude.
Maybe more important is what Jesus says about the healed leper’s act of gratitude: “Rise and go. Your faith has made you well.” Interesting, huh? The man was already healed—as were the other nine who never returned; the priests had already done the ritual restoration. He didn’t need Jesus to do anything for him at this point. But he knew that Jesus’ graciousness had changed his life, and he wanted Jesus to know that he knew that. So he acted: he knelt, he voiced his praise. He did gratitude. And that, Jesus said, not only meant the man was healed, but that he was faithful, and consequently “well.” Hmmm. So gratitude is an act of faith. And, even more important than being healed, is being well with God.
Throughout this Stewardship Season we will explore together a variety of facets of gratitude: How are we as Christ’s people called to practice gratitude in regard to our relationships, where we are at in life, the talents, the skills, the resources that we have at our disposal? You will be invited to take stock of your own life, your life in Christian community at Calvary, and your place in the world. In all these places you are called to be a manager, a steward, of God’s gifts to you.
Starting Sunday, October 13 (or before, if you’d like), I invite you to employ all your senses in entering a season of gratitude: Look around you: What do you see that makes you grateful? Reach out with your hand: Whose touch has made you feel more human? Savor the food that passes through your lips, and send up a prayer of thanksgiving. Listen, and then sing your praises for the incredible sounds that God has filled your ears with. Gratitude may be a noun, but it only finds its full meaning in action.
May the God who has blessed each of us richly, give us the good sense(s) to appreciate all that has been done for us in Jesus Christ, the Master who makes us well. Amen.
But the theme for this season being developed by the Stewardship Team is really less a noun and more a verb. Gratitude, in other words, is not just a “thing” we experience. Rather, gratitude is something that we do, express, live. Gratitude is a way of life.
Lori A. Cornell