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by Al Carden

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Jan. 1, 2016

I was introduced to music and singing in a choir while I was in elementary school. Of course, at the time, I had no idea music would play such an important role in my life. I received initial training to sight read musical notation while in junior high school. Tried out for a select ensemble in high school and was blessed to be chosen. Graduated from high school and entered college as a music major. How in the world I managed to make it through college and seminary while studying music remains somewhat of a mystery to me. However, if I had not shown up to participate in the first place I would have missed out on so many blessings.

Serving as a minister of music in several churches in the southeastern United States helped me begin to grasp some of the challenges that often surfaces while being involved in "church work." Some of my experiences were very uplifting and some were, well, not so uplifting. What I discovered about myself, during these challenging experiences, amounted to my lack of self awareness. Now self awareness is a fancy term describing how one becomes atuned to not only what they are doing but why they are doing it. Do you recall reading the passage in the Bible where Jesus looks out at the crowd while he is hanging on the cross and prays to his father in heaven saying, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do"? Perhaps it is important to know why we do what we do. Perhaps not knowing is why history repeats itself. At any rate, for a long time, as I think about it, I really couldn't tell you why I did what I did. I recall being challenged, by one of my supervisors, to find out. This happened while I trained to be a chaplain. That started my quest to make such a discovery.

I was asked why I wanted to train to be a chaplain. I really didn't know. My supervisor told me to go find out. I suppose I could have looked in a number of places to make such a discovery but I chose to look in the Bible. I referenced an Amplified Bible most of the time and while reading II Corinthians 7:5-6 I made a most unique discovery. In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he recounted the struggles he encountered while introducing the Gospel to the gentiles in Macedonia. In the midst of his pain and depression he describes experiencing comfort at the arrival of Titus. Titus was perhaps Paul's first gentile convert. When Titus showed up he brought with him a sense of encouragment that perhaps he did not even realize he possessed. All of a sudden I became acquainted with my reason for being a chaplain. I don't often know the needs of people to whom I minister but somehow showing up brings a sense of comfort and encouragement that may be just what is needed.

Showing up is the most essential aspect of relationship. Showing up is necessary if one plans to participate. As I face the new year I'm asking myself, "Al, how will you show up for others? I think its a good question to ask! I encourage you to ask it too. By so doing hopefully we will be showing up for those who need us the most!