A reflection by Charity Emeronye Swift
St. Luke’s is inviting all of us to do a very basic thing as special creatures of God, who is the very best and finest craftsman there is - to think, recall to memory, reflect on, and be grateful for, the many “freebies”* we have been given and received through our lives pursuant to* God’s immeasurable love and mercy to us all.
Taking time to think, reflect and be thankful/grateful for all our blessings, as St. Luke’s is asking us to do I believe, is a universal thing at least for Christians. This past Monday, my sister Grace (the oldest of five of us siblings) called me from Nigeria, telling me about her church Annual Harvest (a time for thanksgiving) they had the day before. Harvest in Nigerian churches is a very big deal – usually a special Sunday service, which culminates with a huge bazaar of food and activities. How did it go I asked? She told me the long service was beautiful, and she talked about how grateful she was and things she was grateful for. Especially, she emotionally told me how grateful she feels every time she thinks about me, that but for the mercy and love of God, our family would have also lost me the same day as my father and our brother who died in the auto accident that I was also a passenger in at age 6. I had called my sister on the Thursday before, and during our discussion she cut me off in midstream and told me she was having dinner and would call me back because there was something she wanted to tell me. So, I asked her, what was that you said you will tell me? She said: “It is what I just told you, I am so grateful to God that we have you.” Silence, then I managed to say back to her, I am glad too we have you.
My sister had no knowledge then or now, that I am to write this weekly message for St. Luke’s, but her call and all she said to me, adds to the myriads of blessings and experiences that I am very grateful and thankful to God for. Like my sister, I am reminded every day, that I am the very expression of God’s love in real-time, and I will ever remain grateful to God for his grace in saving my life on that fateful day even though I was the weakest amongst all that died in that accident, and for many other things.
I am to bring an immigrants’ perspective to this. I have been a “traveler” for most of my adult life, living in different places other than where I was born. Naturally as a traveler, you are vulnerable in any new surroundings for the simple fact that you are new and do not know much about the new place or know anyone there. A lot of immigrants find it very difficult in their new countries for many reasons. However, unlike many, I did not, because God worked through others to help me and made my experience relatively easier. As a student in Britain, I had, and still have, the Brandler family. Mr. Brandler, who my father worked for before I was born, and his wife, made all the trips from Cambridgeshire to London every school holidays and vacations just to pick me up so I can spend them with his family. The Radcliffe’s in London also treated me as their own, and are involved in my life to this day. In the United States, the Geiger family gave me a job, treated and paid me very well, despite knowing that I had no work papers. For all these I am very thankful and grateful to God.
I am very grateful for being part of our St Luke’s family. A place to worship where I feel I belong, has always been important to me, and I am grateful for the fellowship that I share with all at St. Luke’s and in a special way, the choristers. I count it a blessing that I finally joined the choir. It has been a very uplifting and rewarding experience. Above all, I am very thankful and grateful to members of St. Luke’s for all their help and love when my mother was here and after she passed. I have so much to be thankful and grateful for. My thing is that every day I see day break, is a blessing in itself that compels my gratitude to God no matter what it brings. So, hope you will join me in taking time to reflect and be thankful to God.
To our God and Rock of all ages!
Note: *In my first paragraph I used the words ”freebies” to highlight the fact that all good gifts, things and acts of mercy and love that God has given us or has ordained to happen to us, has never been for a price, or because we are good, or deserved it. I also used the word pursuant to (conforming/in consonant with) – one of my favorite words that I use regularly in my work, to signify the authority behind assertions/claims that I make in my legal briefs in support of my clients’ claims. I use those words here too, because like the statutes/laws/case law that it refers to, scripture tells us in various verses and words, that God’s love and mercy to all of us through Jesus Christ, is an edict, a constitution, a covenant, an irrevocable promise etc., that we, as children of God, should and must rely on, as our authority for pegging our unwavering confidence and trust in God’s everlasting love for us.