By Dr. Rev. Linda Hollies
Advent is a season of weariness. Advent is a time of stress. Advent is a time that takes a toll on everybody! Whether we are the ones running about trying to stretch a budget that has no more elasticity in it, or whether we are the ones trying to figure out how to buy something new, fresh and novel for that person who seems to have everything, Advent is that time of the year where we can almost feel the weariness that hovers in the air. This is the third Sunday of advent and hard run toward Christmas is on! I’m so glad that God promised strength for the weary soul.
We have gotten so commercial in America until the stores don’t even wait for the day after Christmas to advertise anymore! They begin the Christmas advertisements in the news, on the air and other media almost before Halloween! Buying and purchasing has almost become gods all by themselves. Advent is the season where we are preparing to receive the gift from God. God so loved us, in our sin that God gave Jesus. Jesus gave his life. Now, we are learning how to both give ourselves to God, as a living sacrifice, and to give ourselves to others by sharing, not by always buying material “stuff”!
Sometimes, the first thing that we need to learn to give ourselves is down time. We each need some quiet, all by myself, don’t bug me, don’t bring me your garbage, don’t call my name, don’t talk to me time! Jesus often went away to be alone. Jesus took advantage of “me time”. Jesus modeled for us that going away, being in prayer and keeping focused is part of our daily lifestyle. It is essential during the changing seasons, especially this one called Advent.
One of the ways that I have learned to spend some “me” time is to put an extra day onto any work venture that I’m called to do. In November, I found myself with three different early morning flights that conflicted with Mista Chuck’s work schedule, so I had to call a cab service. I ran into a driver who’s name is Ezra Clay Cameron, who for the past twenty-five years has been a volunteer football coach at Ottawa and Creston High Schools. Born in Chicago to Ezra Clayton and Clare Christel Cameron, he went to William H. Wells High School and made an impression on his own coach, Vince Lombardo. Graduating in 1962, the coach helped him win a scholarship to The University of South Dakota, where he graduated in 1966. He went to work for Nestle’s and was transferred to Grand Rapids.
Ezra is a story-teller. Ezra is a talking man. Ezra is a giving individual. And, I listened well as he told me about his “ministry to kids” on the football fields. He has gotten older, grown weary, has to have knee replacement in the near future, but has tried to pass on to Grand Rapids children the gift that Coach Lombardo gave to him many years ago. Ezra has many tales to share about his work with not only the kids, but with principles, Sydney Bailey, Martha Williams and supervisor, Mel Adkins! When he talks about “his kids” he names them, bragging about their life achievements.
What I loved about talking to Mr. Cameron was that he did not just tell me the stories of his successes. He shared with me how he built a food brokerage business and watched it begin to falter at the same time that his body parts begin to fail him and his marriage of thirty-three years dissolved due to all the stress. In spite all the bad news that seemed to come his way, in multiples, Ezra, continued working as a volunteer coach, due to his commitment to “walking the talk” of being a good man. On this Advent journey, I raise the name of Ezra Clay Cameron, as another “Joseph” who has taken on kids that were not his by birth, but invested himself into them as though they were.
I offer to Ezra this week’s memory verse: “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50: 7) As he goes to have knee replacement surgery, I give out a shout to a mighty, mighty good man in the city of Grand Rapids! I know that the nursing and tending staff, wherever he goes will hover over him as his weary body is mending.
Ezra is so proud of his own four children: Clayton Michael Cameron, who was third leading rushing back at Saginaw Valley State University and now works in pharmaceutical sales; Jerry Ezra Clayton, a leading rusher at Hillsdale College, also in pharmaceutical sales; Dawn Monique Cameron, who is a graduate of The University of Michigan, holds a Master’s from Harvard and is working on her PhD at Stanford; then, the baby of the family is Christopher James Cameron, a Western grad and the music director for the Coldwater Public Schools.
God is so committed to us as we live the life that we talk about! In this season of Advent, God is expecting and anticipating our responses to all that we have received! I admire Ezra Clay Cameron and had to share with you what I learned on two cab rides! The Joseph story is a historical fact of the life and ministry of Jesus. This week, be on the alert to pat on the back, to rub up against, to take out to lunch and to give public accolades to the many men in our communities, who life Ezra, wear themselves out investing in other folks children. Who knows where we will run into The Living Christ?
Remember me, for I too, am on the Advent Journey, needing a fresh song for my weary throat! Shalom, Weary Ones!
On the journey with ya! Rev. Dr. Linda H. Hollies, “Let's live holy; laugh often; and let's love with flair and with extravagance!”
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