Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

My mother spent a lot of time worrying. She worried every time her children left home. After 9/11 when I set off on a tour to Europe she sent me a sweatshirt bearing the flag of Canada. She said, “I will feel better if you wear this every day, no one hates the Canadians.” She worried every time I went to Israel. When I was in High School, or college or in the Holy Land she asked me to check in. “I just need to hear your voice and know that you are OK.” With the holidays just around the corner, the importance of “checking in” cannot be overstated.

Some twenty years ago, Russell Hicks played the drums in our “Breaded Fish” worship band. He was a World War Two veteran. One day he stopped by my office, we shared a cup of coffee and then the conversation turned to his service in the United States Navy in the Pacific Theatre of World War 2. Hicks was a 19-year-old Seaman First Class from the great state of Iowa and served on the battleship Missouri. The Missouri would take part in the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, she would be a part of the attack force on the Japanese home island and she was the Flagship for the Pacific Fleet. The Pacific Fleet was under the command of Admiral William “Bull” Halsey. Bull Halsey was a legendary leader of men, a skilled military strategist, and is one of only four men who have ever achieved the rank of Five-Star Fleet Admiral in the history of the United States Navy.

On a rare peaceful day in the Pacific in the Fall of 1944, Seaman First Class Russell Hicks was ordered to Admiral Halsey’s office on the Missouri. He entered at full attention, having never been in the Admiral’s presence, much less in his office. He was seated in front of the wooden desk, with papers and telegrams neatly ordered. Admiral Halsey said, “Seaman Hicks are you happy serving on this ship?” Hicks replied, “Yes sir, it is an honor to serve.” Halsey continued, “Have you enough food, time for rest, time to sleep?” The young sailor said, “Yes sir, all is good sir.”

Halsey then held up a letter, “Do you know what this is sailor?” “No sir.” Halsey displayed the front of the envelope, “This is a letter from your mother in Iowa. She sent it to me asking me if her son was still alive. Though I am happy that you are currently alive, I am not happy to be getting letters from your mother. So let me tell you how this is going to go sailor. Every Monday and Thursday without fail by fifteen hundred hours, there will be a letter on the corner of my desk from you addressed to your mother. And if you miss even a single day, you will no longer enjoy your time in the Navy. You will not have time to eat or sleep or use the bathroom. Have I made myself clear Hicks?” “Yes sir, very clear.”

A year later, on September 2nd, 1945, the Missouri would be in Tokyo Bay as the Japanese surrendered and the World War came to an end. Russell Hicks’ mother was well informed that her son was alive. ET also wanted to phone home. Lost in an alien world, ET wanted to let the aliens back home know that he was safe. Checking in is important. Who do you need to check in with this holiday season? Who would love to hear your voice? I would very much like to check in with my mother, to hear her voice once again, but that door has closed. Now is the time for you to check in with someone. Halsey understood the value of checking in, may our lives be informed by that wisdom.

One beggar telling another where to find bread, I am your

Pastor Jim

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