Lloyd John Ogilvie, Pastor Emeritus of First Presbyterian Church, Hollywood, and former Chaplain, U.S. Senate, delivered a speech last Friday that kept the rapt attention of the two hundred members and guests of the Rotary Club of Los Angeles. Those of us fortunate enough to attend were treated to an inspiring Thanksgiving message delivered by a master communicator.
Avoiding the normal extraneous comments made by most speakers, Ogilvie startled the audience by shouting “You bigot!” as he opened his talk with a humorous story about a man who accosted him because he thought a sign in front of the church read “Presbyterians” instead of “Pedestrians.”
Ogilvie then went on to speak of one of the greatest qualities of life – gratitude. Pointing out that gratitude is the not only the essence of Thanksgiving, it is a way of life. After all, he said, “God created it. We require it. And people never tire of it.” Moreover, Ogilvie pointed out that gratitude produces an attitude of humility. Yet, he cautioned, as important as gratitude is, there are some who thrive on withholding it as a way of controlling others. All that does, said Ogilvie, is create resentment.
As Ogilvie wove stories throughout his 25-minute speech, he held the silenced audience spellbound. His booming voice, a perfect example of the use pace, range and inflection, commanded the full attention of all. He punctuated his points with big, broad gestures. His facial expression was open and friendly as he connected with people in all parts of the room.
Ogilvie closed with the following poem from Annie Johnson Flint, who was crippled and twisted most of her life with arthritis, yet out of her ordeal of protracted pain, she developed a sensitivity to suffering that helped her understand and encourage others who also were suffering.
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift easy travel,
Needing no guide.
He hath not promised we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
Following the poem, Ogilvie proclaimed “Happy Thanksgiving.” No obligatory, unnecessary “Thank you”, simply the holiday greeting. Bravo! Surely this must be one of the best Thanksgiving messages being given in America today, delivered by a kind man with tremendous communication skills.