LENT II (A)
All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you. – Gen. 12: 4
Abraham, even though others might never have heard of him, was to be a blessing to others. In him, others (whether they realized it or not) would find their lives blessed. What a resolution for Lent. What a conviction to try to live by: to be a blessing to others. As baptized Christians, this is our calling. In turn, we are to be gratefully conscious that others have blessed us, even though we may not be aware of it. Blessings are often hidden, not in the sense of being deliberately concealed, but in the sense of not being recognized. Here is an example in the story of Charles Plumb:
He was a Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. He ejected & parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured & spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal & returned home to lecture on the lessons he learned from that experience. He didn’t know it, but he was about to learn & preach another lesson.
One day, when Plumb & his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up & said excitedly, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!” “How in the world did you know that?” asked the amazed Plumb. The man replied, “I packed your parachute.”
Plumb gasped in surprise & gratitude. While he was speechless, the man pumped his hand & said, “Well, I guess it worked!” Plumb regained his composure & assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today;” & they parted. End of coincidence, end of story? Not quite.
You see, Plumb couldn’t sleep that night. He kept thinking about that man. He wondered how many times he might have seen him & not even said ‘Good morning, how are you?’ because he was a fighter pilot & that man was just a sailor. So Plumb, having thought long & hard about this meeting, now asks his audience when he lectures, “Who’s packing your parachute?” His point is that everyone has someone who has packed their parachutes, who has blessed them, who has provided what they needed to get through the day.
Plumb points out that in fact he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down. He needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, & his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety. Somebody had put them there, had richly blessed him; & he was grateful & determined to pass on that blessing.
Who blessed us this week? Think. Who made our lunch, did our laundry, picked up our garbage, took our pulse, opened a door for us, brought us our mail? Now for the Lenten question: whose parachute did we pack, or should have? Whom did we bless or fail to bless this week? Sometimes, in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important.
Remember, like Abraham, blessing is our calling. Of us it was also predicted, “All the families on earth find blessing in you.” Lent is the time to recall how we are blessed & how we bless others; & if there is a failure to bless, then to repent, to confess, to promise to do better. We are here on earth to be a blessing to others. It’s a deep calling. The moral for Lent? Start packing parachutes. Start blessing those who packed yours. AMEN!