Reflections on a Life of Service
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
-Galatians 5:13 (NIV)
This Memorial Day weekend we commemorate something that I think is sometimes hard for many of us to comprehend - the sacrifice of soldiers' lives for the sake of our freedom.
The United States is home to the "American dream," the land of the free, the land of opportunity. We spend so much of our lives trying to gain, to acquire, to win. I think part of our struggle to understand the fallen soldier comes with our difficulty in accepting sacrifice. The soldier's sacrifice follows the example of Jesus Christ laying down his life for us. It's selfless love for others.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.
-John 15:13 (NIV)
We call our soldiers "service men and women," yet that term should describe Christians as well. Faith in Jesus Christ offers mercy and forgiveness from sin and freedom to be who God made us to be, but that freedom came with the price of the cross. Our gift of freedom is to be used for service. Freedom does not exist independently of sacrifice in the life of the believer. Paradoxically, the person who chooses freely to serve others knows freedom unlike any other, for it is in the giving of ourselves that we truly come to know ourselves.
On Saturday, June 4, at 1:00 p.m. in our chapel, we will bear witness to the resurrection of the life of Captain Constance Joan Quigley Overby, a Christian sister who dedicated her entire life to the service of others. Having served most of her life as a nurse in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Connie was always quick to remind everyone at this time of year that there are actually seven branches of uniformed commissioned officers.
Connie had a passion for serving underserved populations, especially attentive to the health and wellbeing of women and children. For years, she taught prenatal classes to impoverished young mothers who could not afford adequate care for themselves and their unborn children.
Connie was an advocate for the prevention of illness, and would leave no stone unturned to ensure that children were receiving the health care they needed and deserved. While serving at the Indian Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma, when pediatric patients didn't show up for scheduled appointments, Connie would seek them out in the community and go to their homes to immunize children and teach their parents about the importance of routine well visits.
Connie was an obedient servant of the church. She loved God with her whole heart, mind, and soul, and she was a seemingly tireless saint in her work behind the scenes to serve others. She loved the music of the church, singing in the choir and ringing handbells. When her husband passed away in 2004, Connie donated our first two octaves of handbells to the glory of God and in memory of John.
Connie logged countless hours meeting with, listening to, and praying for many care receivers as a Stephen Minister. She was a member of the worship ministry team for many years and was always quick to lend a hand for whatever needed to be accomplished - decorating the Pumpkin Patch, setting up Presbyterian Heritage displays for Kirkin' o' the Tartans, hauling Christmas trees, and preparing our chapel for Advent and Christmas.
In January 2015, Connie was ordained and installed as an elder in the church, appropriately serving on the Caring Ministry Team. She was one of the most caring individuals this church has ever known, and she served others with a humble spirit, a ready smile, an infectious laugh, and much love for those for whom she was caring.
Prayer for Today
Creator God, we give thanks this day for all men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom. We offer thanks for the gift of faith witnessed in the amazing life of our dear sister, Connie. May her dedicated service be remembered as a witness to the light and love of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, in whose name we pray. Amen.