Everyone Is Someone’s Person
By Joann Condit of Phoenix, AZ, USA
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 15:5–6 NRSV, adapted
Many years ago, a beloved friend lived in the Los Angeles area. Evangelist Louis Ostertag was born in Alsace-Lorraine, a small country carved out of both Germany and France. His father was a tapestry weaver and continued that artistry when the little family immigrated to the US and settled in Pennsylvania.
Louis retained a charming French accent until the day he died. He was kind, humorous, wise, and had great faith. He served with the U.S. Army in the First World War, and fought in the trenches of France. He was one of those unfortunate souls exposed to the lung-scarring, chemical mustard gas. Louis’ health was fragile, but his spirit was strong. We loved him dearly, and I was so privileged to receive my evangelist blessing under his hands.
Louis shared a story with us about his childhood.
“One day my maman asked me to do something for her, and I was rude and disobedient. She said to me, ‘Louis, you go upstairs right now and get into bed. When papa comes home, he will decide your punishment.’ Well, I went upstairs, undressed, and got into bed. I was repentant and afraid. I waited for my papa to come home and decide my fate.
“When he came into the room, he sat down beside my bed, and he said, ‘Louis, your maman has said that you were rude to her. Is that true?’ ‘Yes, Papa.’ He sighed then, my father, and he said, ‘Louis, I don’t care what you say to your maman, but you may not speak to my wife that way.’”
And he never did again, Louis assured us, before adding, “Everyone is someone’s mother or father or child or brother or sister or person, and as such, is worthy of our respect.” Those are the words he lived by.
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, forgive us when we forget that everyone is your child. You have given us the commandment and capacity to love others as you love us. You have given us the capacity to share the peace of Christ with everyone.
Read Psalm 139:13–18. After reading, sit quietly and let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made”?
Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How does God invite you to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.
Today, God, I will remember how I feel after I am rude to someone, and I’ll think twice before I speak.