Tuesday, 14 February 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means To He!

(Originally printed as an ecumenical column for The News Herald of Franklin, PA) 

One of the most important vows I make in providing for God's people, as a priest of the Church, is a vow to respect the dignity of every human being. Those well-known prophets Merriam and Webster define respect as "an act of giving particular attention, consideration or high or special regard." Let’s find out what respect means to “He.”

As followers of Jesus Christ and people who live with Holy Scripture as our guide, we are each called to provide for a world that affirms the worth and dignity of all people as created by a loving God and in the image of that same God.

Respecting the dignity of every human being is fundamentally about our relationship one to another as members of the Body of Christ. In St. Matthew's Gospel the Church receives her marching orders, "You are like light for the whole world... No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house." (Matt 5:14-16)

The Church is called to be a beacon for society, not a mirror of society. I often preach to God's people at St. John's (in Franklin) that we, as Christians, are "in" this world, but we are most certainly not "of" this world. We answer to a much higher Authority for how we are to operate.

As a beacon for society, we shine God’s love into the darkness of our fallen and broken world.  This light, when brightest, highlights the beauty that goes beyond the depth of the skin; highlighting the beauty of being created in God’s own image.

Respecting the dignity of every human being means acknowledging the fact God seeks all because God created all. We are to be agents for Christ in making certain that no one whom God has created becomes lost to this world. There is no more important way we carry out this work than within the quality of our human relationships and the manner in which we work to reconcile every created to his or her Creator. 

Respecting the dignity of every human being is not about tolerance. Tolerating a person means to "put up with" him or her, or even to allow one to continue as (s)he is without contradiction or hindrance. Surely, as Christians, we are not called to do this either. We must all be on the Way to becoming more Christ-like, and that means setting each other in the direction we are to go when we have lost our direction.

Respecting dignity, one to another, is at the very center of the teachings of Christ. However, any student of religious or faith-based traditions, or a student of the school of hard knocks, knows that this is not just at the center of the teachings of Jesus and the Church, but at the center of our common lives as a people. Human beings only begin to reach our potential when we are provided the respect to become the people the Creator has created.

Join us in worship at 7:30, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings as we strive to follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ as his disciples in all we do, growing more and more into people of faith, hope and love, nourished by God's Word and Sacraments.

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