There is so much grace, mystery, wonder to be seen, and I mostly miss it, but today I saw a blessing. An elderly woman was making her way toward the local Lutheran facility where the church gathers weekly for worship (St. Stephen, you may know of whom I speak); she looked frail and ancient leaning on her cane, and yet there she was making her way toward the place where she expected, by grace, to meet the God she’s forever known in Christ. I suspect she was unnoticed because this is who she is and what she does; most Sundays I have also missed her on the way but today I saw and marveled at her faith, her steadfastness, her enduring perseverance that was Spirit-inspired to move her toward worship once more.
Her witness reminded me of another moment of mystery and wonder I encountered in a small Methodist church building in Bournemouth, England in 2004, with a group of students from the Wesley Foundation at The College of William and Mary. Worship was being led by Kara Cooper, a W&M alum, now a British citizen and Methodist chaplain at Lancaster University. What I will remembers always from that Sunday was a trio of members coming forth, the middle an elderly WW 2 veteran aided and upheld by his fellow sisters in Christ who had come and brought him to the Lord’s Table. There is a hunger and a thirst that only God can quench, that draws us until we draw our last breath, and is a blessing. These poems respond to the epiphanies I was blessed to see today here and then, in England.
Her three-legged crawl near imperceptible
By drivers passing on their way
Like a vine she moves
Carefully, cautiously, gently toward the Light
Her outstretched hand feeling for the sign
Aptly marking the privileged place for her
Who no longer moves so fast or far
As others do and once she did
But blesses and is grateful for a place
Reserved for her
Shyly lightly curb-toeing her way up
Wondering not if it can bear her up
But if she can bear herself to that low height
Rocking back and up once twice thrice
The small swell of success waving her on
A one-woman band gliding toward the parade
Others also drawn toward the Light
Just inside the door
Where she expects to meet the Door
The Shepherd True Gate Way Life
The path paved every first day of life
A lifetime lifelong journey
She cannot think not going
Woman toward the well where the thirsty Savior waits
Thirsty to bless and be blessed
To feed and be fed
Welcomed Home once more grateful
Table set and prayer ended
Bread fractured Cup filled
Hungry hearts anticipating
Empty hands filled with hope
The pastor stands
Ordinary ways ordinary folk
Nothing new as always
Until he comes they come as one
Mystery on the move
An ancient man
Armed with two women
Who stand him guide him on
Lest he fall or fail
To reach the goal of God
No rush ever patient
They have eternity
Feet sliding on holy ground
Once young guarding shore
Ludicrously armed with battle axe
Now feebly muscled yet faith strong armed
He comes as two stand guard and lead
The pastor ready at her post to feed and bless
A miracle seen at life’s ebbing shore
Old soldier at ease before the soul’s Guard
At peace and fed and blessed
By two by all by One
And blessing he because I saw
-2017, David M. Hindman, soli Deo gloria.
I Thank My God for You
(words and music by Joseph M. Martin)
For a lovely choral presentation of this anthem, go to
I thank my God for you each time I think of you.
Each time I pray for you, I’m filled with thanksgiving.
For ev’ry word and deed, for helping those in need,
I thank the Lord for you and give Him the glory.
And even when we are apart, you are always in my heart.
We are bonded by God’s Holy Spirit for we are one in God’s embrace,
one in love’s unfailing grace.
We give voice to one great Alleluia.
I give thanks. I thank my God and give my praise. Alleluia.
I thank my God for you and each time I think of you.
Each time I pray for you, I’m filled with thanksgiving.
And when the day is done, and ev’ry race is run,
God’s perfect grace will bring us home.
We will be together. for ever and evermore.
I thank my God.
At the gathering for worship in which I participated today, this was the anthem, inspired by Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “ I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you…” (1:3). In our worship we celebrated the 5th Sunday of Easter, observed the secular Mother’s Day holiday, and The United Methodist Church’s Festival of the Christian Home. In addition to a marvelously broad-stroked pastoral prayer, this anthem was a worship highlight for me, not only for its beauty of language and melody but because it led me to reflect on the thanks I give for my mother and the family into which I was welcomed, nurtured and formed.
It is nearly two and a half years since my mother, Hilda Mitchell Hindman, died in her 100th year. My father, Neville Millard Hindman, has been dead nearly 30 years. Today marks the 35th year since I asked my wife to marry me; my parents celebrated 38 years of marriage and so I find myself being mindful of the brief, precious and beautiful gift we receive in marriage and family. No matter how many days we have, they are soon gone and we fly away; but today I sense my parents’ nearness in the great cloud of witnesses, and am especially thankful for them. In the words of the anthem, Mamma and Daddy, “I thank the Lord for you and give him glory. And even when we are apart, you are always in my heart. We are bonded by God’s Holy Spirit for we are one in God’s embrace, one in love’s unfailing grace. We give voice (here and on that far shore and in a greater light) to one great Alleluia.”
What follows is not a perfect nor exhaustive listing, and it is not intended as a list of perfect family or parental gifts or characteristics. It is simply my list of those things for which I give thanks to God for my mother and father;
I thank my God for you each time I think of you. From you I learned
*the mystery, wonder and gift of faith in Christ
*to give God preeminence in all things, and to participate in the church, not because it is perfect but because it is beloved and cherished by Christ
*to give thanks to God every day for simple things like food, and to form the discipline of daily and regular prayer, lest I take life for granted or miss its wonder
*to be true to my word and a reliable person on whom others can surely count
*I am not at the center of the universe and to be content with what life brings
*one role I have in life is to help others and to be generous with time, talent and treasure
*music and song are beautiful and worth the discipline
*integrity, honesty, character are irreplaceable treasures to be enacted in small as well as great ways
*there is honor in hard work, perseverance, and determination
*to speak my mind without fear
*over the years that the above gift can be both bane and blessing
*to cherish family and remember that this is one of God’s best gifts
If this serves as a prompt for you to enter into a similar season of reflection and gratitude for those who welcomed, nurtured and formed you, all the better. May your day be an occasion to say, “I thank my God for you each time I think of you.”