Blessing series

Blessed to Be a Blessing: Closing Prayer

Savior’s Blessed to Be a Blessing sermon series concluded on Saturday, but we pray that what we learned will continue to shape our lives and our interactions with others. As we reflect on the teachings and challenges offered to us from the pulpit over these past 5 weeks, Senior Warden Deb Nickerson offers the following prayer:


Father God, we thank you that on this day and in this present moment, you have called us to live and serve you in this place, right where we are. Thank you for placing our church in Wheaton. Show us how to love others here, we pray. The work before us today, the people who cross our path today, the challenges and the rewards of this day, you have set before us. Give us courage and presence of mind to press forward. 


We thank you for the example of Jesus, who demonstrated the value of slowed pace throughout His life. Provide us with the gift of seeing others not as interruptions, but as dear ones in need of healing and wholeness, worthy of our attention and love. Give us the patience to slow down. Give us the presence of mind to welcome “interruptions” as gifts and opportunities. 


Lord God, as we see the faces of those you bring into our lives each day, give us ears to hear their stories. Give us divinely inspired interest and curiosity. Rather than the desire to be heard, give us the desire to listen. Fill us with a loving concern and appreciation for each person you place in front of us today.


We are grateful that by your grace, you are already at work in the lives of those we will encounter today. We thank you that we do not have to sell them a package of faith, because you are already calling them gently. Give us discernment and wisdom to fulfill whatever part you would have us to play in each one’s life. 


Father God, we thank you for this community that you have called us to. We are not on a solitary journey, isolated from your people. We thank you for friends to confront, pray and love us as we journey. Thank you for friends to advise, support and embrace us as we offer ourselves to bless those around us. 

 Mold us in your image, El Roi, God who sees Me, that we might truly see the people you place on our path. May it be so, Lord. May it be so. Amen.

Blessed to Be a Blessing Resources: Embrace

Henri Nouwen writes, “We keep forgetting that we are being sent out two-by-two. We cannot bring good news on our own. We are called to proclaim the Gospel together, in community.” This week we are invited to examine what it means for us to go on our outward journey together.


Resources for further reflection:

  • The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together by Mark Votava

    • Votava encourages his readers to concentrate on our relationships and our particular place, instead of focusing on individual achievement. Our faith and spiritual practices are best undertaken together, so he emphasizes living our lives in close proximity to our local neighborhood and church and prioritizing building community and friendship with the people nearest to us.

  • In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, Henri Nouwen

    • Nouwen exposes the temptations we often experience when ministering to others, and he dismisses our insistence on defining successful leadership in individualistic terms. Instead of focusing on ourselves and our effectiveness, Nouwen reminds us that we first and foremost work together as a “called people.” True ministry can only be accomplished together from a posture of humility and reflection.

  • This week we offer two activities for you to practice. Choose the one that resonates with you more.

    • Spend some time reflecting on this question: What keeps me from understanding ministry and evangelism in communal terms? Talk to God about what comes up for you in this.

    • Is there someone in your life that you are seeking to bless with God’s love, but this is proving difficult for some reason? Ask a friend to pray with and for you and/or to join you in your time with this person.

Blessed to Be a Blessing Resources: Grace

Affirming how God is already at work


“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” -- Thomas Merton

As we take the time to notice those around us, to listen to their story, how do we affirm the ways in which God is already at work in their lives? How do we allow our interactions to be a blessing?

Resources for further reflection:

  • The Sacrament of Evangelism by Jerry Root and Stan Guthrie

    • These authors want to renew excitement for evangelism in the Church by focusing the reader on how God is already at work in the world, and reenvisioning the work of evangelism in sacramental terms.

  • Ears to Speak podcast episodes

    • The goal of this podcast is to teach Christians how to be better listeners and friends as an essential element of evangelism. For the hosts, the key is cultivating solid communication skills, particularly learning how to listen well. Each episode they discuss a different aspect of evangelism, and encourage their listeners to reimagine evangelism for real relationships.

  • Activity: When we pray for others, we often find our love and connection for them deepening. This week set aside time to pray for one or two people whom you would like to bless and affirm in your interactions. Maybe someone you saw only in passing, maybe a longtime friend, or perhaps a newer acquaintance whose story has stuck with you. As you pray, thank God for being at work in this person’s life, and ask God to illuminate ways you might join him in the work he is already doing.

Hear Father Kevin’s sermon on Grace by clicking here.

Blessed to Be a Blessing Resources: Face

Week Three: Face


Caring enough to learn their story:

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.” —Henri Nouwen

This week, in the place God has placed us, as we slow our pace and notice those around us, we practice what Nouwen calls this “simple ministry of presence:” learning people’s stories, listening deeply, allowing God’s blessing to us to flow through to those around us.

Resources for further reflection:

  • “Evangelism, Meet Soul Care,” Kimberly Penrod Pelletier:

    • This article teaches us how we can love others better through our own experiences of Christ’s love for us. As we receive God’s love and become aware of the Holy Spirit speaking to us, we learn to be aware of how God is moving in the lives of those we encounter, and are moved to help them engage with his love.

  • The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction, by Adam S. McHugh

    • This book emphasizes the importance of listening as a way of life. The author begins by focusing on how God listens to us and how learning to listen to him extends into a countercultural way of life, marked by listening to God and others.

  • “The Power of a Dinner Table,” David Brooks:

    • This article shares the story of one family who opened up their home and table to teenagers living in poverty. This article shows how extending a listening ear to others can be the first step to opening your life to bless others in powerful, concrete ways.

Hear Father Kevin’s sermon on Face by clicking here.

Surprises on a Prayer Walk through Wheaton

Fr. Kevin’s introduction: In a recent sermon on Place—settling down and seeking the peace, I invited people to take a prayer walk near their home or in their workplace to see what God brought to their notice. Alice Teisan took up that invitation and writes about her experience:


On September 23, I took a prayer walk from my house to The Compass Church. As I set out, I was struck by how on my block we have me, living below the poverty line, then blue-collar workers in the two houses next to me. Two of us own the cheapest houses you can buy in Wheaton, and the guy in the middle rents. Neither of my neighbors has interest in faith. 

Just west is an apartment complex where social gentrification happened last year: a developer from Skokie took over the apartments and raised the rent from $800 per month to $1300. The developer would redo an apartment, then tell residents they had to move into the refinished apartment or leave when it was time for theirs to be redone. In this complex live individuals from the Bhutan people group, with a father and son who are translating the Bible into their language.

The apartment complexes between Blanchard and Stoddard remind me that some of the loneliest, unreached people dwell in apartment complexes. Rents here range from lower than $1300 per month and up. I think, How can those starting out afford such rent?and How are they making it without being overburdened by stress?

Then I reach Wheaton College housing, where some of the richest children, with representation from all over the USA and throughout the world, live. On to the “International Village” complex at President and College where people from many countries, speaking many languages, live. They walk past my house to Glen Ellyn Evangelical Covenant Church, where in the summer they have garden plots, then proudly carry their yield home. 

On the south side of College Avenue is a laundromat, where the homeless hang out because they can wash up in the sink while doing laundry. Behind that is the third-busiest train station on the Union Pacific-West line, where people of all walks of life pass each day. From the city some come to panhandle on Wheaton College’s campus. 

West of President is Bethany Chapel, a small church that owns a multi-unit apartment complex where they rent and let people stay for free. In that complex live a couple from Haiti, with the goal of producing Bible resources translated into Creole for pastors. Then on to Wheaton College, where people come from all over the world to study at this top-notch Christian College.

Heading north on Chase, the landlords rent rooms to people like one woman I know, who would be in a mental institution, if some still existed, for substance abuse and mental health issues. On the east side of Chase are townhomes, owned by Missionary Furlough Homes, where missionaries can live, paying subsidized rents. Then a big, beautiful house, which represents the mid- to higher-end homes in Wheaton. On Roosevelt sit businesses, just before I arrive at The Compass Church.

In this small, mile-and-a-half circumference, live people from every socio-economic class--from refugees, immigrants, international students, the downtrodden, and ex-offenders, to students from every socio-economic class of families, to the CEOs of companies.

Indeed the Lord has the whole world in his hands, and the entire world is represented between my house and The Compass Church. I asked my dad in March, “Do you think I should move back to Detroit?” 

He said, “Alice, Detroit doesn’t have anything for you. Your ministry exists because of where God has placed you in Wheaton.” 

All I can do is thank the Lord that I have the privilege to live in Wheaton, where my love for the world, the marginalized, the educated, and the extremes of diversification are only a few steps away.