By Sterling Moore
The faded brown Chevy clunker edged past the bell tower of Ascension Church as though uncertain whether the Church was open on Saturday. When it sputtered twice and came to a stop, a raspy, old voice called out, “Your sign says you have a food pantry.” The vegetable garden, then at the south end of our Church, needed weeding; thus, I was there. “You won’t be able to get anything today lady. It’ll be open one day next week.” “I don’t need anything,” Joyce said, then gestured to the back seat and added, “I brought some things.” There in the car, in the hundred-degree heat, sat a bespectacled, gray-haired lady in her mid-to-late seventies, windows rolled down as the car had no air conditioning. In the back seat were dozens of plastic sacks and boxes filled with nonperishable foods, paper products, toiletry items, and bottled drinks. “I never throw coupons away,” she said. “When I go to the store I keep buying until they’re all gone. It’s more than I need, and I can’t store all this in my apartment. I used to give these to a church across town, but then I moved down the road. You’re closer. If you can use them, help me unload.” The rattletrap came to life again and she parked near the gazebo, a garden area named for one of our gardeners. Grunting and wheezing, she pulled herself out of the car and stood in the shade. After opening the kitchen door and finding the light switch, it took both of us several trips to unload her car. In the process, I managed to drop a large glass bottle of ketchup that splattered her as it hit the driveway. To which she mumbled something about “men.” She saw this with a touch of humor, not a disaster. Within a half hour of her coming, Joyce was gone. This was not the last time she showed her willingness to be a blessing to us or to others. Matthew discusses forgiving one's indebtedness, which is a blessing in itself. While nothing was owed to Joyce, she gave freely of her meager means. Paul’s letter to the Romans advises that we do not live to ourselves, and should not pass judgment on others. Joyce did not pass judgment on others less fortunate than herself but strived with her God-given blessings to help those in need. Are we willing to respond in a positive way to use our individual blessings, which God has given each of us, in support of Ascension? Sterling's reflection is based on this Sunday's Gospel reading: Matthew 18:21-35. Sterling grew up in Pennsylvania with Southern Baptist parents. In the late 1950s, he completed his education, and except for three years in England with the service, he has lived in Texas ever since. He and Key brought together two families and enjoyed their six children and multiple grandchildren. They have been members of The Church of the Ascension for the past 37 years.