Read Philippians 2:1-18
On my maternal grandfather’s side of my family a story has been handed down from generation to generation. The story begins in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Isaac and Sarah Harkness were raising their young family when Isaac made the decision to journey west. His reasons for moving are now lost, what we do know is Isaac walked 750 miles before finding a place to build his families’ home in Trivoli Township which is located in Peoria County, Illinois. Isaac was greeted in that remote region by the Potawatomie Indians. They taught him how to work the tough prairie sod and instructed him on how to plant the corn they had given him. The people of the Potawatomie tribe were not only neighbors, they were good friends. They helped in many ways as Isaac built a home for his family. The following autumn Isaac walked back to Pennsylvania to gather his family and their belongings to make the journey to their new home.
As I read the history of the Potawatomie people, I learned that my families’ move to Trivoli Township took place during the time that the Potawatomie peoples’ lives were changing as well. Their way of life was transitioning in ways that was devastating, yet in the midst of their own uncertainty, they reached out to Isaac. I believe them to be a witness to that which is good.
I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians. Paul writes about imitating Christ’s humility. He tells us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (2:3-5 NRSV). Jesus looked upon everyone with the love of God. As He made the journey to the cross, He had each of us on His mind. God calls us to look through the lens of Christ as we journey through life, to reach out to a struggling world. We must each rely upon the Spirit of God, and when we do; we will be a blessing to others and will be blessed ourselves.
(Rev. Carol Stufflebeam is a clergy member of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference currently serving at Virginia UMC in the LaMoine River District)