My scripture last Sunday came from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. I was speaking about now is the acceptable time! If we wait til we are perfect, the church is perfect, or that minister we've got gets perfect (she won't :-)--then we will perhaps lose the time we have and miss out on what God has for us.
This scripture has taken me further down the path of looking at Godly Fathers/Men and Women. Recently I have been fortunate to do the memorial/funeral services of some "Saints". I ran across a reading that I used in one service and I quoted part of it Sunday.
John Cardinal, in his book Idea of a University, gives this description of a gentleman:
1. A gentleman is one who never knowingly inflicts pain on another. 2. He is one who avoids the clashing of opinion or suspicion or gloom or resentment. 3. He is tender toward the bashful, gentle toward the distant, merciful toward the foolish. 4. He never speaks of himself except when compelled. 5. He has no ears for slander, and never insinuates evil. 6. He submits to pain because it is inevitable, to bereavement because it is irreparable, and to death because it is his destiny.
I would add to the idea of a gentleman, a lady, a Christian--a lover of others through Christ.
Both one of the persons I recently did a service for and one for whom my husband did on the night of Father's Day, had friends to stand up and say, "I NEVER heard him say a bad word about anybody." "I NEVER heard him criticize what the church was doing, the pastor, ANYONE."
Wow. What kind of witness is that? When you and I get to the end--will someone stand before our friends and family and be able to say "He or she was such a great Christian--always positive, always kind."? I want that, don't you?
Love is our witness. When people testify with their mouths that they love Christ AND YET slander their neighbor, their church, its leaders--what will the witness be? That is not an attitude that ATTRACTS, it DISTRACTS. Church leaders ask younger people what attracts them to a church--they find it is not a place that has so much a certain style or genre, rather loving people who are in relationship, kind to one another, and forgive one another.
St. Paul and the Corinthians struggled with that. All humans struggle. Let us strive for, and work toward, perfection--maturity--now is the acceptable time, if we have not had faith, or if we have held a grudge, refused forgiveness, or simply not been able to refrain from criticizing--let us move forward toward the mark of the high calling.
I am beginning my fourth year at Trinity UMC. I have so loved our time together--our children and youth are growing in grace and our saints continue to work together! "For God So Loved the WHOLE world. . ." Amen. Blessings today, Pastor Kim