Last Friday when I went to check to see if we had any mail, there was a large white box on our porch besides the mail that was in the box. The box came from a church in Seattle that I had never had any communication with. I brought it into the house and began to open it. There was a letter on the top of an assortment of books, a CD, and a children's book. The letter addressed me as "Dear friends in ministry" and the let me know that the contents of the box was being sent to me as a gift from the "Turner Legacy Committee" of University Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle. The letter stated that this was a gift and nothing was expected back from me...except the ordination vows that I had made to myself.
The contents of the box were books written by Reverend Dale Emerson Turner who had been pastor of the University Congregational Church in Seattle for many years. Rev. Turner also served as religion columnist for The Seattle Times for twenty years. He was a spokesperson for Progressive Christianity and spoke up for civil rights, opposition to war, and the empowerment of women and minorities in ministry. He was an advocate for the creation of the United Church of Christ in 1957. Rev. Turner passed away in 2006 at the age of 88 and left funds as part of his legacy to bless others in the ministry with the writings that he had completed during his lifetime.
When I read the letter, I was moved with emotion. I was humbled by the fact that of all the UCC ministers in the USA, I was chosen to be a recipient of this gift. I was also reminded of the connection that we often forget that binds together those of us who feel called to the task and joy of ministry. We often forget that there are many of us who share this calling and God uses each of us in a unique way to work in this world and bless and challenge others who need to hear God's voice. I have only begun to explore the writings of Rev. Turner but I am looking forward to seeing and hearing via CD what he would say to me as he reminds me of what ordained ministry means.
Most Sundays in our church we share a part of the service called "The Call to Offering" in which we remind all of us present why we need to participate in the offering about to be collected. Many Sundays, the message contained in the Call is one that reminds us that we have been blessed by God with many good gifts. Those gifts are not ours to hoard but they are ours to share with others. We are blessed to be a blessing to others in our world who may not be as fortunate as we are. We are given so many blessings that we cannot number them and we are called to pass them on so that the world will be a better place because of us.
I am truly thankful for the generosity of the Turner Legacy Committee and mystified by how my name and address came their way so that they could share these gifts with me. I will try to emulate their gift and share what I learn from the wisdom of this partner in ministry with others who need encouragement and someone to speak for them when their voice cannot be heard. Perhaps that is the greatest gift we can give others...to listen to what they have to say and to respond as we are able so that God's blessings will be spread throughout the earth.