Sharing stories of birth, birthdays

Last week, I celebrated my birthday. When I was growing up, the ritual for the birthdays of my brothers and myself included my father telling us the stories of the days of our births.

This story-telling took place between eating breakfast and rushing off to school. So each year, I would hear about how my parents were anxious about my birth because a major snowstorm had hit the part of North Carolina where we lived. Even though my mother was not in labor, they called Dr. Ralph to ask his opinion; I was already a week late or so. Dr. Ralph told my parents to come on to the hospital and wait until my mom went into labor.

The trip to the hospital was treacherous, as North Carolina in the early 1960’s had no equipment to take care of roads in a significant snowstorm. My parents arrived in the early afternoon and almost on cue, my mom went into labor. I was born shortly after midnight the next morning.

Every year of my childhood, my father would tell the story. On the morning of my birthday of my freshman year in college, I was surprised to receive a phone call from my father so that he could tell me the story again. After a few years I realized that as long as my father was able he would call on my birthday and tell me the story. My birthday the year he died was the first time in my life that he was not able to call and tell me the story. I still miss his storytelling of the day of my birth.

This year I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who remembered my birthday. I heard from childhood friends, and friends from college, most of my cousins, my brothers of course, and all of my family made certain that we gathered the evening of my birthday for cake and ice cream. It was a wonderful day.

One email that I received was from a friend that I have not really seen in about 20 years. Her email started with the words: “Somehow today I remembered that it is your birthday. I am right, aren’t I?”

Having friends and family remember us feels good, doesn’t it? It gives us a sense that we are loved and beloved. It gives a sense that our lives matter to someone and that someone takes notice that we are here.

When Jesus was on the cross, dying, long ago, one of the men hanging beside him realized who he was and uttered the words to Jesus: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus responded to him with words that assured the man that he would not be forgotten.

Friends, whether we realize it or not, we are surrounded by people who do not feel that anyone remembers them. It is important that each person is remembered because each person is important to God. Each person deserves to be remembered, to be cherished, to be beloved no matter what we think about what they have done or not done in their lives. It is part of our calling as we follow Christ to remember others with kindness, encouragement and hope.

Who do you need to remember this day? Who is it that you have not thought about for a time that may need to hear a kind word from you? Who is it that you know who may not feel that anyone remembers them? Who is it that Christ is calling you to remember? May we all listen to the voice of Christ in our lives telling us to remember.

To God be the Glory!

On the parish calendar: Reminders: Prayerful Knitting meets Wednesdays at 2 p.m. at the Parish House, weather permitting. Knitters of any level from beginner to experienced are welcome! Crosslines is now open on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ash Wednesday Service, March 5, 7 p.m., Chapel Hill UMC.

Lenten Lunch Worship Series begins March 12, First UMC. Worship following lunch at noon.

Spaghetti Dinner, Friday, March 14, 4:307 p.m., Chapel Hill UMC. Fundraiser for 2014 mission trip. Cost: $10 for age 8 and up, $5 for children under 8, or a half portion.

UMW Spiritual Growth Retreat, April 34 and 56, Cedar Lakes, Ripley.

Lay Servant Ministry Training (formerly Lay Academy), Saturday, April 12, Chapel Hill UMC. All lay speakers and any lay servant will benefit from attending. Further information available from Carolyn Nettles, Tim Kelley and the District Office.

Celebration of Mission Event May 3, 10 a.m.1 p.m., Quiet Dell UMC.