Rodney’s Reflection: Birthdays, Anniversaries, & So Much More…

I typically keep my emotions in check and out of sight. Between Aug 20 and September 8, we celebrate our oldest birthday, our wedding anniversary, and the birthday of our 3rd child, Mercy. It is hard to do. Whether it is a commercial, a facebook post, a verse or phrase of a hymn sung in worship, each strikes me in an entirely different way during this season. I think more about our daughter, Mercy, about our other three kids, and my incredible wife.

I have so much to celebrate. Grace’s birthday is extra special because she was our first born, and an amazing blessing because of the miscarriages that came before her. The sadness and tears as Mercy’s birthday comes makes me think of all the things that might have been if she had lived, if she hadn’t had the genetic disease. What would she be doing? Sandwiched in between is our wedding anniversary.

As I reflect on how God has impacted my life, our marriage for 22 years, the lives of our children, and people of faith who we have shared life with, a flood of memories and feelings pours over me. I am overwhelmed with emotions, but most of all I am grateful. I am grateful for God’s grace and mercy. I am grateful for the people God has placed in our lives: children, youth, and adults. I am grateful for the text messages, emails, and phone calls. They are reminders of great love in my life and the difference God is making.

For a long time, I could not have imagined standing in church or even writing something like this, sharing my emotions, my difficult days, my doubts, or the reasons for my tears. I would have just kept it inside (sometimes I still do).

God continues to break down my shell of insecurity and self-protection. God has put agents of grace in my path, and opened my heart. Over the last 3 years, by writing and opening up in my reflections, sermons, and bible studies, I have seen how God can and will use the brokenness of my life, and the lives of others, to help someone else. God will use our stories and our brokenness to help others in their journey, to help bring healing, and for sure to help others know they are not alone. Thank you Aldersgate UMC for being a safe place, a healing place, a place to be my authentic self.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.- 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Have you been a recipient of God’s grace?
What impact has Aldersgate UMC played in your journey? 
Have you shared this impact with someone else?

I hope to see you in worship (9:00 a.m. online or in person / 10:15 a.m. in person) this Sunday as we continue our Celebrate sermon series. 


Rodney Whitfield
Senior Pastor