Let my seeing and hearing
My words and my actions
Be rooted in a certainty of your presence.
In our Sunday bulletin there
is the section called the “Proclamation of the Word”. It usually includes
readings from the old and new testaments, a Psalm and a final reading from
one of the four Gospels. Sometimes there are stories of ancient battles and
tribulations. There are songs of praise and tales of our first missionaries.
Some tell tales of the life of Christ and some are the stories He told. At
times what we hear seems to come from so far in the past, from such a
different world, that it appears to have no relevance in the age of 2005.
Today’s letter from Paul to the Romans was to people he did not know and had
never met. He was introducing himself in hopes of being with them soon. He
was presenting his credentials – explaining how he believed Christians
should live their lives. Repeatedly, he urged his reader to choose the right
path when confronted with options: to choose the way of light, not darkness;
love, and not hate.
This passage from Roman’s isn’t an historical lesson – a teaching written
solely for people of long ago times. It is an eternal life lesson: the
reality of each and all of our lives. Each day we are faced with those same
Nothing has changed.
How we choose to live our lives is so essential to the well-being of every
aspect of our life: and for the whole world.
And so often those choices are all in the perspective.
For instance, from the moment we are born, we are dying. Yet, we do not ask,
“How’s death going?” We say “How’s life treating you?” Yet, logically, every
day brings death closer.
When we are young we count our age in months and 1/4s and 1/2s. Children are
so proud to proclaim that they are 3-and-a-quarter-years old . . . or are
now a teen or have reached majority (and can now drink!).
But its not many years later we take to dying our hair and lifting our faces
to conceal the number of years we have lived. Although why one would want to
appear young and immature is a bit of a mystery to me.
Why not show-off with pride those well-deserved white hairs, the wrinkles
from ten thousand smiles or the waistline softened with the birth of a
It is all about what we value and what do we hide.
Life is not the reward of living. Death is. For it is dying that we attain
Life is the opportunity to live life fully and joyously . . . the great gift
that God has given to us and once gave to Jesus, who too was given this
wondrous experience: the years that he spent here on earth . . .
Now, can you try, just for a moment, to imagine your life on earth as a
wonderful tour? And one on which you want to get your monies’ worth. You
want to experience all the wonderful gifts of God, the beauties, and the
passions, and the love.
Now, anyone who has ever gone on a trip knows that things go wrong. The
plane doesn’t take off on time and you miss your connection. Your stomach
and the local dishes collide painfully. The relatives you visit are as hard
to get along with as they ever were – only distance had dimmed the memory of
how painful it could be. It rains and storms and the beach is polluted. The
fairgrounds are crowded and the local residents surly.
But when you get home you regale everyone with tales of the exotic scenery,
your daring diet, the great deals you encountered, the marvels of the local
gallery, the sing-a-longs at the campfire and how many inches and pounds
were evident at your high school reunion.
So too with our tour here on earth. Life isn’t always a bed of roses – or,
if it is, there are a great number of thorns on the roses!
Yet, every day we have is a gift from God: a gift full of incredible
possibilities. A day in which we may meet someone who will have a wonderful
impact on our lives: a friend, a counselor, a love. A trip to the library
may reveal a distant star or an ancient world. A song heard for the first
time can lighten our footsteps throughout the entire day. A walk by the
lakeshore reveals the immutable mysteries and beauties of God. We can make
dinner for our family, a friend or a stranger and share not only food but
our day and our dreams.
Or we can do something nice for someone else just because it feels so good.
How wonderful each day is, is limited only by our imagination.
Of course, some days will be bad. We will lose something, or someone. But if
we have banked up good days and good memories, they comfort us.
When we can no longer play tennis, we can remember outstanding matches and
laugh about them with the friends we made on the courts.
When someone we love dies, we can rejoice that they are no longer in pain
and suffering, confident that the love of Jesus has led them to their place
in heaven. And we can remember the good days we had together.
That doesn’t mean we will know no pain, that we will not suffer. Merely that
we will know that we are not alone . . .
There’s a story about the old couple who were married for 40 years, always
together, constant in their love. But the inevitable happened: eventually
the old man died and the woman was inconsolable. Nothing the minister could
say would ease her pain. Her children tried. Her friends tried. But they
could give no comfort.
Eventually, a wise woman went to her and said, “I need your help. I have
this beautiful ring that I want you to give to the family who has no
sorrows.” So the old woman went out and visited every family in her village
and at the end of the day she came back and returned the ring to the woman.
And her own grief was gone. For she knew she was not alone. . . .
It is the loneliness of life that debilitates ALL of us at one time or
When we feel that no one really cares or listens to us. Not our partners;
not our parents; certainly not our children; not our friends. When we feel
that thre is no one out there who really cares if we live . . . of if we
Cities are particularly bad for this. There are so many people rushing
around us . . . with someone to meet, something to do, somewhere to go . . .
yet we feel we are uniquely alone. They must have someone else. They must be
cared for. They must be the ones who are heard . . . But not me . . .
The reality is, they are as alone as each and every one of us.
It is only with God that we have a constant friend. With the Holy Spirit we
have an ever-sympathetic ear. It is only with Jesus that we have the love
Nothing is impossible with God. With faith we too can walk on water,
overcome adversity, love and be loved.
We will not be overcome by evil but we will overcome evil with good. In
doing so, we will live our life to the fullest and finest. Living our life
as Paul directed we WILL find our niche, our place in this world AND IN THE
9. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
10. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one
another in honour;
11. not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12. rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
13. contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
16. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but
associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
17. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the
sight of all men.
18. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
19. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of
God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
20. BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A
DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”
21. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.