Read Philippians 2:1-8.
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, Pa. Isaac and Sarah Harkness were raising their young family when Isaac decided to journey westward. While his reasons for moving are now lost, we know that Isaac walked 750 miles before finding a place to build his family’s home in Trivoli Township, Peoria County, Ill.
In that remote region, the Potawatomie Indians greeted Isaac. They taught him how to work the tough prairie sod and plant the corn they gave him. The people of the Potawatomie tribe were not only neighbors; they also 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 journey to their new home.
As I read the history of the Potawatomie people, I learned that my family’s move to Trivoli Township took place during the time that the Potawatomie people’s lives were changing as well. Their way of life was transitioning in ways that were devastating; yet, in the midst of 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 (2:3-5, CEB). Paul writes about imitating Christ's humility. “Don’t do anything for selfish purposes but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus.” Jesus looked upon everyone with the love of God. As he journeyed 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 and to reach out to a struggling world. When we rely upon the Spirit of God, we will be a blessing to others and will be blessed ourselves.
The Rev. Carol Stufflebeam, a clergy member of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, serves the Virginia United Methodist Church in the LaMoine River District.