Oswego County (New York) Hospice Memorial Service

I have had the honor of being a hospice volunteer for 20 years, the last 5 giving pastoral care to patients and their families at their request. Sharing this part of life with these dear people has provided some of the most rewarding moments in ministry to me.

Oswego County Hospice provides most excellent care for the families they serve. In what is usually the most trying of times for a family, the administration, care providers and volunteers of our hospice organization treat them all with the dignity and respect they deserve, providing emotional and practical help to each one.

Once a year, Oswego County Hospice holds a memorial service for all of their patients from the previous year. This touching ceremony allows us to say good bye to those who have passed as well as letting their families know that they are remembered as well.

Due to the on-going restrictions in place because of Covid-19, the memorial service was help virtually again this year. I’ve included a link to it should you care to share in this experience with us. Also included is Betsy and my presentation of “On Eagles Wings.” We sing it to honor those who have passed and as an encouragement to those left with holes in their heart.

Blessings, Pastor Chuck

https://health.oswegocounty.com/programs/1_hospice/bereavement.php

I’m Gonna be a Star!!!

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(image courtesy of wallpaperset.com)

Well, um, not really. But I did have a pretty cool experience under ‘the lights’ yesterday. As many of you know, my wife Betsy and I have a unique hobby: We sing our national anthem at sporting events and other activities around the Central New York area. We’ve been doing this since the attacks of 9/11 as way to show our support and appreciation for all those who put their lives on the line for others.

Also, if you’ve been reading this for the past 6 weeks or so, you know that I am a huge proponent of getting vaccinated against Covid-19 when it becomes available to you.

Anyway, back to the bright lights, these two areas of passion in my life brought about the opportunity to bring them both to the forefront. A community action group called, Health Care Equity Task Force got wind of our talents and support of the vaccine and invited us to be videoed singing our rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. After we did this, and because I have received both of the shots, they had me sit down for a taping of my thoughts about this particular vaccination.

Pondering this experience the following morning, I began to see the connection between our presenting of the anthem and getting vaccinated. As I said above, we sing to honor this country that we love. That’s not to say I/we are naively unaware of the many challenges facing America today. I do not filter my view through the lens of any political party. I stay informed on the issues and daily pray that God will intercede on behalf of our land with a sense of His peace and leading.

Given the platform to perform the national anthem, we do so because, flawed as it is, this is still the greatest country on the earth; and even more so, we recognize that a vast number of people we will never know personally have and are performing duties and functions that protect us all. We sing to honor, respect and remember.

Getting vaccinated against Covid takes the same approach for me. Yes, I do not want to contract this thing, but I primarily have gotten the shots to serve others. I will never know, nor do I need to know, the positive affect my getting vaccinated is having. The point is, in my opinion, to put yourself in the place of others. By putting their well being at least on a par with my own, I tend to see the simple necessity of receiving the shots as doing the next right thing for others. I did it for the common good, as I attempt to honor, respect and remember all.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

PS: I will let you know when and where the video is to be released, most likely sometime this spring.

C

You Just Never Know

I spent the majority of my 40 plus hour work weeks as a painter. The last twelve years of time-clock life I was the Facilities Painter at Le Moyne College, a Jesuit school in Syracuse New York. This last gig was by far the best. I was hired to start the department and it was basically left to me to organize and complete all the paint work on campus. It was a perfect fit for my personality. God has wired me to be an organized self-starter, and this played very well in this job.

Of all the fond memories I have of being a Dolphin (Le Moyne’s nickname), working with the summer crew of students was the very best. Those twelve summers allowed me to meet and interact with some fine young women and men. We shared lots of laughs as we completed the re-paint of all the dorm rooms on campus each year.

I am blessed to still be in touch with a number of “my kids,” as I fondly called them. Many have assumed prominent and interesting positions since graduating from Le Moyne. There are many schoolteachers in this group, as well an occupational therapist, several nurses and even a Funeral Director, to mention just a few.

The summer paint crew consisted of between 8 to 12 students each summer; so it is safe to say I worked with at least one hundred different students during my time there. Most had never held a paint brush when they started with me, making the first several days with them a challenge, to say the least!

It was always my intention to give my charges more than simply painting lessons, however. Working side by side with them for three months gave us the opportunity to get to know one another. The pastors heart within me cherished the times when our discussions went beyond assignments and into the realm of the eternal. Though I attempted not to be overt in my style, when questions pertaining to Jesus and/or Christianity came up, I did my best to answer in meaningful ways.

As in most cases in life, and maybe especially in ministry, we seldom get to see much if any fruit from our labors. I am ok with this, for ministry to me is all about God and His love for all people. If He should choose to use my words or actions to reach another person with His message of hope, may He get all the glory!

That is not to say that I do not wonder about the impact I may have had on my summer kids.

The other day, as I was looking at the gift they gave me as it hangs in my office, God gave me a blessing. You see, the picture I shared with this entry is what my crew of students gave me on their last day of the summer of 2016, just shortly before I left Le Moyne College to go into ministry fulltime.

If you would look at the picture again, you will see that each of them signed it (some with the nicknames I assigned them!) and attached a paint brush they had dipped in gold paint. The caption they wrote touched my heart with God’s affirming message about my efforts with them: Your brush has touched our lives.

What a blessing! These young folks, with grades, loans and many other things to occupy their minds, took the time to let me know what they thought of the time they had spent with me. As I looked at what they had given me, I felt a renewed sense of encouragement to carry on with what God has given me to do.

I share this with you today, Faithful Reader, so that you too may experience some encouragement. Yes, the days can seem long and this particular year can appear to be unending, but please hang in there, you just never know when what you say or do is reaching someone in a positive way.

Be Blessed and be a Blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Remember

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(image courtesy of peoplesdefender.com)

For many, Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer. While the weather is actually trending toward that season here in Central New York, this year feels unlike any other as we all deal with the Covid-19 outbreak. No pandemic, however, should ever affect our memories.

In the States we use this day to pay our respects to all the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price for the protection of our freedom. May we as a nation never forget the cost they paid for us.

I was reminded the other day about Nathan Hale, an American spy captured by the British in the early stages of the Revolutionary War. Just before they placed the noose around his neck, Hale has been quoted as saying, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” I’m sure this was a sentiment that many felt in the ensuing years and through our various wars and conflicts as they gave up their lives in the service of our country. I hope you will join me as we honor them this weekend (and always).

Blessings,

Pastor Chuck