Saturday, 11 February 2012

To Whom Much Has Been Given, Much Will Be Expected

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

The comedian Dennis Miller, when he was in his prime, was famous for ranting. His spouting was funny and witty, yet often barbed and acerbic (sour and harsh). I don’t rant often, and what I have to say isn’t funny or witty, but I believe it is important. I live in a small community and so the manner in which we interact one to another can change lives. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie.

“To whom much has been given, much will be expected.” You may remember these as the words of Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in Spider Man (or perhaps FDR, if you go back that far). However, they are the words of Jesus Christ from Luke’s Gospel.

Vocationally, I am in a position of authority, and I pray that what I have to say matters—that what I have to say about God is taken seriously. Much is expected of me, and if it is not, it should be. “To whom much has been given, much will be expected.”

In the time I have been a resident here in Franklin, I have known half a dozen people who have taken their own lives here in my community. Always tragic—in a small county such as ours, different words come to mind—devastating, catastrophic, heart-breaking, and grievous. My intention is not to make a pronouncement of right or wrong. My intention is simply to make two observations; one as a Christian and one as a Christian leader.

The first is this: what I find to be most devastating and heart-breaking and un-Christian is that suicide is a topic we refuse, as a community to discuss. In doing so we leave families and friends, who have been left in the wake of death, to wade, and often drown in a mire of loneliness, isolation, anger and fear. In short, we do not love each other enough.

The second is this: I study God. I love God. And yet, I do not understand God, nor are my ways God’s ways. Yet, too often I profess to know the mind of God. Too often I put God in a box and limit God’s grace and mercy. Too often I forget that with God all things are possible. In short, I do not love God enough.

Jesus says that we are to love God with all our heart, and we are to love each other as the Father and Son love. What we say to each other about love matters. What we say to each other about God and limitless grace and healing and the compassion God has for us as God's children matters.

Our words can be healing and life-giving, or they can be destructive and further level. Words can hurt the body and kill the soul. We must, regardless of our faith tradition, but certainly as Christians, be healers and reconcilers. “To whom much has been given, much will be expected.”

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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