Jul 12

Maggie’s Story & the need for a chapel at Intermountain—Pastor Kelly Addy, Huntley UMC

Is there a more important place than Intermountain to have a chapel? The campus offers hope to young people who have come to view happiness as a stranger. Today, there is still no building dedicated entirely to our faith in the unceasing presence of Jesus Christ. When Terry Chaney asked if I would write something about the Chaplain’s Fund, I recalled a classmate from Local Pastors’ Licensing School in Denver a dozen years ago.

One day she taught me again that in the end, our lives are stories. That’s how we come to understand this world, why Jesus’ parables are full of meaning for us, why his story still changes lives when nothing else could. I’ll call my friend Maggie, for Magdalene. When she was five years old, living in The Projects in Chicago with her mother, she walked into her mother’s room one day while a man was raping her. She didn’t understand and became angry, so the man raped her, too.  This devastating event convinced her that she ‘was bad.’ She believed God must have been angry with her if something like that could happen to her. If God was that angry with her she must be bad.

Maggie’s mother sent her to live with her aunt.  Her aunt was poor, too, but she did not live in the projects. It was just a safer place. Her aunt took her to mass every day.  Maggie became familiar with the church and the altar, the priest and the order of service.  In the front of the church, right where everyone looked, was a man on a cross. No doubt about it, something very bad had happened to him.  What had he had done to make God so mad?  Answers came to Maggie, day by day, one little clue at a time.

Jesus hadn’t been bad at all.  He was God’s beloved son. God sent him to earth because people were doing bad things to each other and hurting themselves. Someone needed to say Stop!  So Jesus was born.

He wasn’t born in a palace, though, but in a poorer place than The Projects. When he was a baby, before he had even done anything, the king tried to kill him.

He astounded everyone when he was as little as she was. He understood God in ways no one had ever thought about before.  He grew up and fed the hungry, clothed the naked, healed the sick, and preached the Good News to people as poor as they were.

He wasn’t born because God was mad at people, but because God loved people, all people, and especially Maggie.  Jesus knew everything about her, understood it like no one else ever could, and Jesus loved her as no one else could. She knew she could trust him, and one day she loved him, too.

We all went our separate ways from Licensing School. Wherever Maggie is, though, she can tell people about a Savior that is as real as real can be, because of what he did and what was done to him. She could see his story as her story long ago. She came to Licensing School that summer to complete the circle, and make her story his story.

It is in the story of every soul Intermountain brightens.  It rings true every time we hear it from a new friend and every time we tell it to a stranger. It never ends. It is full of the hope that brought Brother Van to Montana way back in 1872. It is at the heart of the healing Intermountain offers today.

As Intermountain rededicates a cottage as its chapel, we help children see how Jesus keeps his promise to be with us, always and no matter what. It is a tangible and abiding gift to all who come seeking the hope we offer in his name. May it stand as a reconfirmation our faith in the healing power of the parables through which Jesus taught us, and in the story of the Christ who suffered all things to redeem all God’s children.