‘A Wonderful Life’
This past summer, my family learned that we were “under farewell orders” to move to a new appointment as Salvation Army officers (pastors) at a new corps (church) in Indiana, Pa.
Captain Mari and I turned to the Internet to discover more about our new home. What stood out most was that Indiana, Pa., is the birthplace of actor Jimmy Stewart.
Although Stewart passed away in 1997 at age 89, you can hear his distinctive drawl as an audible crosswalk signal (thanks to the celebrity impersonator Rich Little) or visit the official Jimmy Stewart Museum. Although he has portrayed many iconic roles, the one for which he is most known is that of George Bailey in the Christmas movie classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
Several misfortunes befall a well–meaning Bailey. When he concludes that the world would be a better place if he had never been born, Clarence, an “angel in training,” enters the picture. By showing Bailey how he has actually touched many lives in a positive way, Clarence helps him realize that his life has been truly wonderful.
My parents, Majors John and LauraLou Swires, were also “angels.” They taught my siblings and me that Christmas is a time to give to people who are in need. The Majors Swires would recruit our friends and us to assist The Salvation Army in distributing food and toys to the needy. I would watch as my classmates discovered that those so–called nameless, faceless people were actually their neighbors or families who sat next to them in church.
In Matthew 25, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
As Salvationists, we have the privilege of blessing people in the name of Jesus. This is the family tradition that we’ll pass to my children and to my grandchildren. Yes, it is “a wonderful life”!
— Captain Geoffrey Swires