Food for the spirit
Story from President-Elect Barack Obama’s Life (20 years ago)
We just received this from
the Rev. Bruce Gillette, with the note that many preachers might find it
November 23rd’s lectionary
lesson for Christ the King Sunday is
There is a true story from the life of President-elect Barak
Obama that is a good illustration of spontaneous acts of mercy that
Jesus praises in his final public teaching before his arrest.
The past election includes far too many personal attacks
and rumors that were false. It would be good to share this true story to
help Americans get to know our new president. More importantly it is a
reminder of how Christ calls us to care for the strangers that we
encounter in our lives.
This story was documented
as true and told by David Emery in the fact-checking Urban Legends
section of the “About.com” web site in the online story titled “Barack
Obama's Random Act of Kindness”:
“The Norwegian newspaper VG
has reported a truly amazing story about a newly-wed trying to get to
Norway to be with her husband, and the stranger who helped pay an
unexpected luggage surcharge. The blog "Leisha's Random Thoughts" has
translated the story.
It was 1988, and Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport
checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband when the
airline representative informed her that she wouldn't be able to check
her luggage without paying a $100 surcharge:
When it was finally Mary's turn, she got the message that
would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.
- You'll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want
to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter
Mary had no money. Her new husband had traveled ahead of
her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.
– I was completely desperate and tried to think which
of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a
careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.
As tears streamed down her face, she heard a "gentle
and friendly voice" behind her saying, "That's okay, I'll pay for
her." Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen
– He had a gentle and kind voice that was still
firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this
Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still
remembers the authority that radiated from the man.
– He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with
brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki
pants, says Mary.
She was thrilled to be able to bring both her
suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get
his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of
paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she
finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved
goodbye to her.
Who was the man?
Twenty years later, she is thrilled that the
friendly stranger at the airport may be the next President and
has voted for him already and donated 100 dollars to his
– He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary,
She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day
after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished
his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago, and had
started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.
Mary even convinced her parents to vote for him:
In the spring of 2006 Mary's parents had heard
that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had
still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they
told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time,
they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.
And Obama replied:
In a letter to Mary's parents dated May 4th, 2006
and stamped 'United States Senate, Washington DC', Barack Obama
“I want to thank
you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for
reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I'm happy I
could help back then, and I'm delighted to hear that your
daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes.
Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States Senator.”
The parents sent the letter on to Mary.
Mary says that when her friends and
associates talk about the election, especially when race
relations is the heated subject, she relates the story of
the kind man who helped out a stranger-in-need over twenty
years ago, years before he had even thought about running
for high office.
BEVISET: Her holder Mary
Menth Andersen (51) frem brevet fra
Barack Obama, mannen som hjalp henne til
Norge. Ved siden av henne står
ektemannen Dag Andersen (53). Foto:
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!