Summary: Communion Meditation for February 1, 2009
(Slide 1) Kathy begins the meditation this morning with a poem that gives us some important things to think about.
(Kathy shares poem entitled, ‘Give Me Flowers.’
In this world today while we’re living
Some folks say the worst of us they can
But when we are dead and in our casket,
They always slip some lilies in our hand.
Won’t you give me my flowers while I’m living?
And let me enjoy them while I can.
Please don’t wait till I’m ready to be buried
And then slip some lilies in my hand.
In this world is where we need our flowers
A kind word to help us get along.
If you can’t give me flowers while I’m living,
Then please don’t throw them when I’m gone.
That’s a very pointed piece of writing. But there is a very good piece of truth in it that I want to bring out as we prepare for communion and as we consider another pillar of Character Counts – responsibility.
An on-line friend directed my attention this week by to a recently published note by one of our nation’s most distinguished church historians, Dr. Martin Marty on the eve of President Obama’s inauguration. It was titled, ‘Farewell, President’ and in it he quoted the late columnist Mike Royko who said after the departure of Lyndon Johnson, "Farewell, President Johnson. You weren’t the best president a people ever had, but we were not the best people a president ever had."
Marty then goes on to ask his readers ‘What kind of people do we want to be?’ followed by a several qualifying statements primarily slanted either toward a nation who comes together or continues as is. I think that both this pointed poem and Dr. Marty’s question have one theme in common, being and becoming responsible.
Are we going to exercise the responsibility of kind words and actions to one another now, and not just at one another’s funerals? Are we going to determine, in times of agreement and disagreement that we are going to become responsible citizens and a better people for our President and our nation?
Jesus had several things to say about responsibility and one such place is found in Matthew 24:45 - 51:
“Who is a faithful, sensible servant, to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his household and feeding his family? 46If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 47I assure you, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 48But if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ 49and begins oppressing the other servants, partying, and getting drunk—50 well, the master will return unannounced and unexpected. 51 He will tear the servant apart and banish him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This passage comes at the end of chapter 24 and in the course of a discourse by Jesus a short time before His arrest and crucifixion. It begins with Jesus’ proclamation in verse 2, “Do you see all these buildings? I assure you, they will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another!” This statement causes the disciples to question Jesus about the timing of such things.
In the context then of being ready for His return, Jesus speaks of responsibility as a key characteristic of those waiting for Him.
Now, I spoke earlier of ‘Character Counts’ and I simply remind us this morning that it is a program that has been adopted by our local school district to educate our kids (and us) as to several important character qualities and they are listed here: (Slide 2)
On the last Sunday of December, we heard about caring. Today our focus is on responsibility. What does it mean to be responsible?
Character Counts defines responsibility as (Slide 3)
• Do what you are supposed to do
• Persevere: keep on trying!
• Always do your best
• Use self-control
• Be self-disciplined
• Think before you act — consider the consequences
• Be accountable for your choices
Several of these characteristics we find in our main text for this morning. One characteristic of responsibility is being accountable for one’s choices. Jesus shows this in the contrast of responses to a servant who does a good job and the one who decides to take advantage of the situation. Jesus tells us that there are, in the master’s response, consequences to our choices and that we are accountable either way for those choices. To be responsible is to act in a manner in which we exhibit positive accountability in our responsibilities.
This passage also illustrates that ‘doing what we are supposed to’ is important in being responsible. Jesus is making a point to us that God, who is the master in this story, gives us (and the disciples will find out more about this after Jesus’ resurrection) some important responsibilities for the care of the Kingdom of God here on earth. We will talk more about these responsibilities throughout this month.