Summary: Being thankful in all things through a story about Stevie.
Hello, my name is Brien Sims and I am the new preacher at Camp Point First Christian Church. Considering what we have come here to celebrate, I would say that I too should be very thankful to have the opportunity to speak to you all this evening. We will be talking about the subject of thankfulness this evening. For some of us being thankful can be harder than others. The idea has been over used and undervalued. Just as the worth of the dollar has depreciated over time, so has the usefulness of the words ‘thank you.’ Hopefully it won’t take too much to get us back on track like the two men in a field. “Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence. The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it.
Terrified, the one shouted to the other, "Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!"
John answered, "I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life."
"But you must!" implored his companion. "The bull is catching up to us."
"All right," panted John, "I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ’O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.’"”
Hopefully it doesn’t take a bull chasing us to make us pray for a thankful heart. I didn’t want to do a sermon on the 357.5 reasons why you should be thankful. So I decided I would tell a true story as far as I know of it about a boy named Stevie, a truck stop, a sick mother, and a lot of kind-hearted people.
Titled: Something for Stevie
I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn’t sure I wanted one.
I wasn’t sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down syndrome.
I knew some people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks. I shouldn’t have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot. After that, I really didn’t care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.
Our only problem was convincing him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus the dishes and glasses onto cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.
Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was the probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home.
That’s why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work. He was at the Hospital getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Down syndrome often had heart problems at an early age so this wasn’t unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.
A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery and doing fine. Frannie, my head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. Dan, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Dan a withering look.