Legacies Spring 2014
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God Is Good
The Legacy of a Faithful Servant
Almost seven years ago I was introduced to a whole new church family – the people of Marshall Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). When I first arrived as your pastor at MACC, I was visited often and welcomed by many. I wish to lift up one of those persons in my article this month; I want to share part of Cris Engle’s story.
Actually, Cris not only welcomed me as her pastor, she welcomed my family and my puppy dog Eli – giving him a toy every year at Christmas and loving on him every time she saw him. When I came to MACC, Cris was the custodian of the church. She took great pride in taking care of the church building. She would often come by during the week to drop some-thing off, decorate the entryway or just to talk. And I could tell right away that she loved “her” church. But it didn’t take long to realize that it wasn’t just the church building that was important to her; it was everything about Church that she loved. It was about her relationship with God – it was about her relationship with her church family – it was about learning and grow-ing and living together. Cris was present at every fellowship event and every study time she could. Her love for God and for this church encompassed her whole life. You all may not know it, but Cris would walk over to the church every Sunday morn-ing around 6 or 7 am, unlock the building and turn on the light that shines on the cross above the communion table. Some may say, “ok, so she unlocked the church building” but it was more than that. Cris was, in her own way, preparing the worship space for all of us. You know sometimes it is easy to overlook or not share the gifts that we have because we might think they are too small or insignificant. But I can assure you that every gift God has blessed you with is important and ought to be shared. Cris was a testament to that.
If you knew Cris then you probably knew that she was on a fixed income. When we have very little money it is easy for us to think that we don’t have enough to give an offering, and then choose not to. It would have been easy for Cris to say and do this as well, but she was not that way……her relationship with God was not like that. She didn’t have a lot but she was grateful to God for all she had and she gave back what she could. I don’t know how much Cris gave but no matter if she could do a lot or a little, it was important to her to always give her offering. And it wasn’t just from her income. If she ever came upon money, she would give 10% of it to her church. God blessed her, and she gave back in love – both in what she did and in what she gave.
We had to say goodbye to Cris almost 1 year ago – in March of 2013. She died suddenly. But even in her death Cris gave in love of God and to her church. When Cris died she had her next Sunday’s offering envelope on her kitchen table. Her daughter Paula brought it to me because she knew how important it was to her mother. And Cris also put Marshall Avenue Christian Church in her will. She remembered her church as part of her family. She wanted to leave what she could to Mar-shall Avenue Christian Church. She extended her love of God and this church even beyond her time here on earth.
We were blessed to call Cris Engle friend and we were blessed to have her as part of our church family. This testimo-ny of Cris Engle is important for us to hear and to share because it gives a great example of how, even if we have very little, to be a true steward of what we do have. Sitting across from the offering box, [Jesus] was observing how the crowd tossed mon-ey in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins – a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collec-tion than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” (The Message, Mark 12:41-44)
Submitted by Rev. Rachel Doolin, Pastor at Marshall Avenue Christian Church in Mattoon, IL.