Sermon:
On January 17, 2009 Marvin Schur’s neighbors become concerned about him and went to his house to check on his well being. They had noticed that the lights hadn’t been on for a few days and that the windows of the house had seemed ice over from the inside. They also hadn’t seen Marvin looking out the large picture window as he did so frequently. When they entered the house they realized the power was not on, they found a heating pad on his favorite chair and they saw that the oven door was open. On the floor lay Marvin’s lifeless body, frozen to death in the bitter cold temperatures of a Michigan winter.

On January 13th a worker for the city owned utility company installed a “limiter” on Schur’s electric meter after four months of unpaid bills. This limiter restricted the amount of power Mr. Schur could use and then it cuts off the power if the usage goes past a certain level. Authorities said at some point the device tripped and cut off power to the home and was never reset. This action ultimately led to the death of the 93 year old WWII veteran.

Now, our natural reaction to such a news story is outrage…how could an electric company be so heartless and cruel to a man that must have been struggling financially. However, I assure you that I have not yet told you the most tragic part of the story. The tragic part of the story is the fact that this story didn’t even have to happen. You see, Marvin Schur did not have financial problems. As a matter of fact, it’s estimated that he had over $600,000.00 in the bank when he died. When the neighbors and the police searched his home they found more than enough cash lying around to cover his outstanding bills. Marvin was living like a pauper even though he had considerable wealth at his disposal.

We’ve heard stories like this before. Several years ago the Los Angeles Times reported the story of an elderly man and his wife who were found dead in their home. Autopsies revealed that both had died of severe malnutrition, although investigators found a total of $40,000.00 stored in paper bags in a closet.

Then there is the story of Hetty Green…America’s greatest miser. When she died in 1916, she left an estate valued at $100 million dollars, an especially vast fortune for that day. However, she was so miserly that she ate cold oatmeal in order to save the expense of heating the water. When her son had a sever leg injury, she took so long trying to find a free clinic to treat him that this leg had to be amputated because of advanced infection. It has been said that she hastened her own death by bringing on a fit of apoplexy while arguing the merits of skim milk because it was cheaper than whole milk.

Now, what do all three of these stories have in common? All three examples listed people who had access to the resources they needed, yet they lived…and died as paupers.

The book of Ephesians