Monday, April 20, 2009

Pillars of the Community

Yesterday morning, while listening to a wonderful sermon based on the gospel of the day, the preacher at one point spoke of the plaques around the church with inscriptions “given BY so-and-so.” He pointed out that there was even one that said “refurbished by so-and-so.” There seem to be an awful lot of folks who want to be remembered. I guess we all want to leave a little something behind. I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing. I always hope I will make a difference for the better of others. I’m not sure I necessarily want to be remembered for that though – at least I don’t want to set up my own memorial. I’m really not a legacy kind of guy.

For me I think it is right and proper that we remember those who have gone before us – those who have done great things – those who have made a difference. But, I also think that it is okay if there turns out to be no memories of certain good folks who have done wonderful things. As it says in the book of Ecclesiasticus, “But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them. But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; their offspring will continue forever, and their glory will never be blotted out.”

We call some of the most famous of these good folks pillars of the community (or of the church). Sometimes we are not quite sure who they are. Other times it is more obvious to us. Yesterday’s sermon was saying much more than this, but it really got me thinking (always a mark of a great sermon). Do the work that needs to be done, but do it because it needs to be done – do it to the praise and glory of Almighty God. Don’t do it to become rich or famous or popular. Don’t give gifts or do good works to be remembered – God will always remember, whatever it is we do!

These words from the Revelation of Saint John really speak to what I am saying:

I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

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