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Chaplain  Larry Haworth


How often do you call somewhere and, instead of a live human voice answering, you get that all-too-familiar, “Please hold, your call is important to us”?  I get it too often. I’ll admit, though, that I’d rather hear a recorded voice than just a busy signal.  And, I do hope that the recorded voice is speaking for the human and that my call really is important to them.  But I sometimes wonder.
Please take these written words as coming from the heart of a real person, namely me, when I say, “you truly are important.”  We live in an age of synthetic voices, recorded messages, canned speeches, superficial come-ons, and awful sales pitches.  It seems that, no matter where we go, what we do, or what channel we surf, someone is there saying how important we are.  Trouble is, it’s not always so clear whether we are important to them because we are intrinsically important to them or whether they just want to get something from us.  How much junk mail do you receive? How much spam clogs up your email?  You know you’re important to the senders of this unwanted stuff.  You also know that you’re important only because they want something from you, mostly money.  Not that they are or are not worthy organizations or people, but they may or may not even know you.  You are important, not for yourself, but for what they want from you.
On the other hand, as I already said, you truly are important.  Like, when you call a friend and get their answering machine.  They aren’t home at the time and the answering machine says to leave a message and they’ll call you back.  Then, a while later, they actually do call you back.  That makes you feel important to them, doesn’t it?  Of course, it does.  That’s because when you’re important enough to your friend that he or she goes to the trouble to return your call, you are reassured that you are important enough for them to take the time and effort to call you just as they were important enough to you to make the call to begin with.  My wife and I recently moved into a retirement community where we knew absolutely no one.  However, everybody who lives here is retired military, the kind who are usually easy to meet.  We quickly became friends with our neighbors.  They began calling us whenever they would be away to just let us know what was going on with them.  They were interested in what was happening with us too.  We were important to them and we felt it.  They were important to us, for sure.  Within days of moving to a new home we’d gained new friends!  How can you beat that? 
I assure you that you are just as important as our new neighbors or as we or as anyone else.  Think about it.  Your importance isn’t dependent on how you feel about it.  I remember some years ago when I was in a real funk.  I was going through a hard time and I really felt down and very unimportant to anyone, except maybe to my immediate family and they were clear across the country.  Then, a friend, who I’ll never forget, said to me, “Larry, if you knew how others feel about you, you wouldn’t feel that way about yourself.”  That was well over thirty years ago.  I assure you that the same applies to you.  You are important.  You are important in and of yourself.  You are important just because you’re you.  You’re also important because someone loves you.  You are important because you have something worthwhile to someone else, whether near or far.  It may be great or it may be small.  You may be overwhelmingly talented or you may be normal like most of us.  But you are important.  You may or you may not feel it, but you are.
Finally, let me remind you that you are important because God made you and He says you are important.  You are not an accident.  You were planned by God and you are loved by God.  Whether you feel it or not, you are loved and you are important.  If God said you are worthy and you are loved, then you are.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penney?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  The Bible also says, in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son….”  The world includes you and me.  That’s how it is.
Indeed, you are important.  So am I.  Never forget that.  OK?  OK.
God bless you.  God loves you.  So do I.
Chaplain Larry Haworth
6508 Bannocks Drive
San Antonio, TX  78239



Christmas!  Hanukkah!  New Years Day!  Valentines Day!  Presidents Day (George Washingtons and Abraham Lincolns birthdays combined)!  Martin Luther Kings Birthday!  Easter!  Memorial Day!  Fourth of July!  Veterans Day!  Thanksgiving!  (Forgive me if I left any out)  What great days!  What happy days!  “Oh? What’s so happy about them?,” you might say.  “You gotta be kidding,” I reply.  What’s so happy about them is we get time off.  We celebrate by having cook-outs and going away.  “What do you think I’m thinking?,” you might ask.  What I’m thinking is that holidays are wonderful days, fun days, days to take time off and do something special.  So I like having cook-outs and trips to the lake on holidays.  But it seems to me that there’s a whole lot more to these special days than just doing something different and getting away from work, school, and routine. 
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think that holidays are happy days, or at least that they should be.  I recognize that for some, there are holidays that have very bad memories and associations because of terrible things that happened to them on that day.  Some may have lost a family member on a holiday so they don’t like the holiday or it’s season because it reminds them of that sad event.  Others may remember being in a terrible place on a particular holiday so they don’t like that day because it reminds them of what they want to forget.  Some are alone so they don’t like the holiday because they don’t have family or close friends to celebrate with - their loneliness is magnified on holidays because they are along when others are enjoying their families or old friends.  But, aside from these negative associations some of us might have, almost all of us really like and enjoy holidays in this blessed land of America. 
Every holiday I’ve mentioned, and others I may have overlooked, is very important to us, including our personal birthdays.  The reason they are so important is that each holiday has a special reason and meaning for being a holiday.  Sure, time off work, a change in routine, BBQs and picnics are important.  We have a strong need for family gatherings, for seeing old friends, for getting together with neighbors.  But please recognize this:  there’s a particular reason for why each holiday is there to begin with.  Each was set aside because it means something very important that no other day of the year means in that particular way.  The Fourth of July is to celebrate the day when our Founders signed the Declaration of Independence and we became our own independent, individual country with freedoms and rights that no other country ever had before.  Veterans Day is a day we set aside to remember and show appreciation to all the men and women who have served in our military to protect and preserve America - the land of the free and home of the brave.  Do you see what I mean?
For several years I traveled to Washington, DC to visit the war memorials that honor those who’ve given their lives in the wars our country has fought in order to preserve the freedoms that  everyone deserves.  I love Memorial Day for what it means .  I also appreciate the time off and the activities that I enjoy.  I feel the same for every holiday and I try real hard to observe each one for what it means.  I also like to have plenty of fun on those days.
As I’m writing this, it’s almost Christmas.  I’ve gotten into the Christmas spirit.  I enjoy the music, the lights, the food (uh-oh, too much food), and all.  But I also recognize why Christmas is a holiday too.  For Christians, it’s to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior.  For everyone, including non-Christians, it’s a time to express our love for our families, for each other [and everyone around us, I hope], to exchange gifts and bring happiness to others, to enjoy traditions of happiness, joy to the world, and Santa Claus.  So, when we say “Merry Christmas” all of this is what we’re wishing for those to whom we give the greeting. 
So, guess what.  At Christmas, I say, “Merry Christmas” or “I hope you’ll have a wonderful Christmas” or any genuine expression that specifically says Christmas.  This applies to Christian and non-Christian friends alike (and strangers too).  For a specifically Jewish friend, I also say, “Happy Hanukkah” because that’s exactly what I mean.  Or I say, “Happy New Year” because I truly do hope you will have a wonderful year coming.  Or I say, “Happy Birthday” because it’s your special day and I truly hope you’ll have a real nice and personally special day in whatever way you want it to be.
So guess what else, I say “Happy Holidays” because I want you to have a happy holiday, whatever holiday you pick out, for it to be happy.  Pick out whichever one you want it to apply to because “happy holidays” is a generic greeting and you can apply it however you want to.  It’s a happy greeting and it carries whatever meaning you want.  Personally, I choose to be quite specific in my greeting because I want you to know exactly what I mean - at Christmas I really hope you’ll feel and experience the joy and beauty of the season, to receive the love of God’s gift to all of us, and you in particular.  On Thanksgiving I’m specific in wishing for you a share in the bounty of this blessed land and a true measure of the prosperity that is ours as Americans.  On your birthday, I’ve already explained that I’m specific that this is your day and not just another holiday lumped together with all others to be happy. 
So, I do wish you “Happy Holidays.”  But far more than that, since it’s Christmas as I write, I wish for you “Merry Christmas.”  May you really experience the joy and full meaning of the season.  Also, “Happy New Year.”  May you really have a wonderful, prosperous, and healing year of 2009.  For my Jewish friends, “Happy Hanukkah.”  May you experience the meaning of the season as you light your candles and celebrate the freedoms which your day celebrates. 
God bless y’all.  God loves you.  So do I.
Chaplain Larry Haworth
6508 Bannocks Drive
San Antonio, TX  78239