Summary: This sermon is on lessons learned about living well from a secular book "Tuesdays With Morrie" but with a Christian perspective.
A LESSON IN LIVING
His name was Morrie Schwartz. Chances are that you’ve never heard of him. But in 1994 and 1995 he captured the public eye and wrenched at the hearts of millions of people across the United States.
Morrie Schwartz was dying. In the summer of 1994 he was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gerrig’s disease. Prior to the disease he had been a dancer, but to complicate matters further he was diagnosed as a diabetic and his dancing came to an end.
In the fall of 1994 Morrie Schwartz walked into the classroom of a small Massachuessett’s college where he had spent 35 years of his life teaching sociology and anthropology. This was to be his last semester of teaching. His opening words were chosen well and delivered in a way that left his students silent. “I am dying. I may not be here for the end of this class and the university has no one to replace me. So if you are here because this class is a requirement or you need the credit hours you may want to go find a different class.” Amazingly no one chose to opt out.
Six weeks into the course Morrie was beginning to walk with a cane since the disease was ravaging his legs. About this time someone wrote to Tom Brokah about this professor. And so came the first of three interviews on Nightline. The interviews were not about the disease. Instead they were about the optimism this man had facing death. In fact, the first interview was called “A Lesson In Dying.”
Immediately following this interview a student who had at one time been close to Morrie contacted him. The two had not spoken in sixteen years. But from this point until his death, the teacher and student met every Tuesday.
Morrie’s health continued to deteriorate. He went from a cane to a walker and then to a wheelchair. When he could no longer sit upright on his own he moved to an easy chair in his study and finally into the bed where he would spend his last days. Yet throughout all of this he kept a happy face. And most importantly he taught the student a lesson in living well.
I’d like to share some of those lessons with you this morning. Ways of living well. We’ll call it “A Lesson In Living.”
The first thing I want you to know about living well is this. Whatever life brings you, let it be.
That’s a tough statement to make. Let it be.
We often hear people telling “Oh it’s just God’s will.” And yet when the sorrows of life come we have a hard time believing that. We ask questions like “Why is God doing this to me?” and “Does God hate me?”
Morrie, however, had a different outlook. He believed that his disease was supposed to occur. And I’m forced to wonder how anyone would believe such a thing. Are diseases truly supposed to happen? Are the trials we face just supposed to happen? Morrie believed that his disease was something that had a purpose. He couldn’t change it. He couldn’t control it. What he could do was realize that he was going to die from the disease and live his life as it was given to him. He knew there was no known treatment for Lou Gerrig’s disease. There still isn’t a cure. So he decided that he would live the life he had been given.
We can see this occur in scripture as well. In the book of Luke, the writer tells the story of the birth of Jesus. It is here Luke tells the story that so many of us know at Christmas time. Mary is told of the coming of Jesus. She’s told that she will bear a child. Imagine the horror. She’s a virgin. She’s never slept with a man.
Then it happens. In Luke 1:38 she says this. “The Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be according to your word.”
Let it be! How can she be thinking like that?
I think about what I know about that time period and I know that girls were between 12 and 14 usually when they got married and began having children. My own daughter is 10. Even at the farther 14 isn’t that far away and yet I see how young she is. Through that I can imagine Mary’s fears. She wasn’t married. What were the people around her going to say? Worse still, what was Joseph going to say? He could have her killed. It happened then. An unmarried, pregnant woman could be stoned to death. There would be ridicule. There would be the reputation that followed her for the rest of her life. The whispers of “You know what she did…” always behind her back. And yet this young girl instead says, “Let it be.”