Dear Rose Park,

He’s almost two. She’s in her nineties. He wears t-shirts with dinosaurs and food stains. She wears beautiful sweaters and is delicate with her manners. He runs with abandon until he’s red in the face and sweat is on his brow. She carefully walks with a walker and is precise to find her footing. He’s relatively new to our community. She saw the last sermon of the first pastor of Rose Park. His name is Simon. Her name is Nell.

As many of you know, Nell Freehouse fell a few weeks ago and broke a few ribs. She initially went to Holland Hospital where they treated her for pain and discomfort. After a few days in the hospital, she’s now staying at the Inn at Freedom Village where she continues to go through physical therapy until she can confidently come home with her beloved husband, Bud. Yesterday, Simon and I went to visit Nell and Bud at the Inn. It wasn’t until after our visit that I realized the old saying “opposites attract” was true once again.

When we arrived to their room we saw Bud and Nell sitting next to each other and chatting next to the window. It was a beautiful picture of marriage. Bud and Nell have been married for seventy-four years; they were married in Brooklyn, NY. If you ask Nell, they met by the power of the Holy Spirit. She went to visit her brother while he was in the service and while staying there, she met his roommate, Charles “Bud” Freehouse. The rest is history.

I quietly knocked on the door and said hello. Simon, on the other hand, came running after me with sweat on his face and a bag of goldfish crackers in his hands. As I shook their hands, Simon became a little shy. He sat next to me on the bed and snacked. During our conversation I noticed Simon kept making eyes with Nell. She asked what he was munching on, so I encouraged Simon to share with her. If you know Simon, then you know this is a big deal. Goldfish crackers might as well be a sacred cow to this little boy. But Simon slowly and carefully walked around Nell’s walker and placed a goldfish in her hand. Then to my surprise, Simon did the same for Bud.

Simon and Nell are opposite in a lot of ways, but through a little generosity a friendship was established. By the time we left, Simon was pushing the buttons on Nell’s hospital bed and giving them both a high five before heading back to the car. It’s amazing what can happen when we’re willing to share.

I wonder if the Church could learn from this little encounter. Instead of allowing our differences to be a barrier or fence between us, through generosity we can build relationships with those who are different. We can be generous with our time, grace, food, resources, energy, love, or even invitations to establish a relationship with those who seem different. Jesus does this all the time. In fact, Jesus seems to be a Savior of contradictions and opposites. When others think He’s too busy, He says, “let the little children come to me.” When others believed God would come as a warrior, the Son of God arrived as an infant. When others thought Jesus was only for the high class of society, He sat with the lost, the left out, the looked over, and the least of these. And even though we deserved to die for our sins, Jesus took them upon Himself and paid our debt. Jesus is a Savior of contradictions and opposites.

Here at Rose Park we want to have the courage to follow Jesus’ lead and establish relationships with those who are different than us, because at the end of the day we’re all children of God in need of a goldfish cracker.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Mark