Friday, April 27, 2007

Hats Off To Rescue Workers

All of us are well aware of what happened on 9-11-01, but I wonder how many people are aware that those EMS workers and other first responders are now suffering from all sorts of lung diseases. On 9-11 each of those first responders and then others went to help our friends and loved ones in the midst of that horrible act of terror. Now they are the next line of victims. I have no idea how many people will have died or been permanently injured as a result of those terrorist acts but I know it will be many more than died on that day.
The reason I wanted to write about this is that these Emergency Responders are having trouble paying for all of the health care that they need as a result of their work. It's not like these are the best paid people in the world who could afford it either. Many of them were volunteers receiving no pay and only recently I learned that a beginning EMS worker in Texas makes about $8.00 per hour. Imagine putting your life on the line for $8.oo per hour or for free.
Why do they do it? They do it because they care. They care about others. They care that people are suffering and they want to do something to alleviate that suffering. We hear a lot of talk about pay these days. I don't know anyone who makes enough money. I can't do anything about the pay that EMS workers, Fire Fighters, or Police Persons make, but I can pray for each of them. I can tip my hat to them. I applaud them.
So today, I call on each of my friends, to pray today for an emergency responder by name. I thank God for them and I pray God's blessings on them and their families. Grace and peace, Allen

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lots of Questions

Wow, what a week! Just when we thought things might be getting better in race relations, our world was turned upside down again when Mr. Cho decided for whatever reason to go on a killing rampage. And right now the news media is asking all of the questions that go through our minds: Why was he allowed to be among people? Why wasn't the school more attentive? Why did it take an hour to notify the rest of the school? How could he have gotten those guns so easily? What can we do to stop these kinds of things?
These questions and many others are hard questions. There are no really easy answers. The way they are asked, sort of demands that someone must be responsible. Then we hear that the tragic Mr. Cho was bullied as a child and we wonder how much that played a part in his decision. Obviously there are some truths in all of the answers and then even more questions. It is interesting that I haven't heard the usual one, how could God allow this to happen? I am sure some folks are asking that question. It too is a legitimate one. And like the others, there isn't an easy answer.
I want to ask another question and it should also be on all our minds: Can we forgive Mr. Cho or even should we? Wow, that's also loaded. Well, as a pastor, I know I am supposed to say that we should forgive him. And as a Christian, I do agree that those who are the survivors and family members should also work on forgiving him. After all, that is what Jesus calls us to do and that he encouraged us to do. But as a human being, I know deep in my heart, how difficult that would be.
Forgiveness isn't something that should be done easily. In most cases, forgiveness can come only when the offender makes some kind of amends, even if it is only asking for forgiveness. But even in the asking we expect the person to offer real, heartfelt remorse. Last week, Don Imus offered his apology and asked for forgiveness for hurting the ladies of the Rutgers Basketball Team. His request seemed heartfelt and sincere. But Mr. Cho is dead and his deeds were so much more horrendous.
I can't tackle all of the aspects of forgiveness in one column. I mainly want to say that forgiveness is about letting go. Letting go of the anger and the hatred. Forgiveness is not about rebuilding a relationship but about your own personal healing. If the victims of these horrible crimes focus the rest of their lives on hating Mr. Cho, they will become bitter and will harm themselves. If they can focus on the goodness of their loved ones and the good memories they have of them, then they can be healed through this terrible experience.
I am not suggesting that this would be an easy thing to do or a quick thing to do. I am only suggesting that forgiveness is about healing. God has asked us all to forgive even as we ask for forgiveness. So I invite you to join me in praying for these victims of this horrible event. And I also ask that you pray for Mr. Cho's family as they also grieve what their son did and his death too. Let us pray for healing in even the worst of events.
Would you like to talk about it? come on by the church. We meet every week and would love to talk with you about the importance of forgiveness. Allen

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What language is appropriate?

It has been a whirlwind week for players on the Rutgers team and for talk show host Don Imus. By now, most of us are aware of Mr. Imus' insensitive remarks about the ladies on the Rutgers team. I have been interested in all of the media hype and as well the comments by the team and others who were harmed by his thoughtless remarks. I am not sure what should happen to Mr. Imus, but Mr. Imus is not the problem. Mr. Imus is only a symptom of the problem in our country.

For along time, we have worked hard to recognize that all persons are equals before God and should be recognized as such in our communities. However, Mr. Imus' remarks which were so quickly said reminds us all that there is still much work to do to overcome racism and other "isms" in our nation and our world.

My prayer is that this incident serve as a reminder to us all that we should be careful what we say to and about others. Apparently, we need to teach many adults what we strive to teach in the Jr. High department in church: that it is never appropriate to call people names. It is never appropriate to make suggestive comments about someone or to make fun of other people. For thirty years or so, according to Mr. Imus, he has made his living in a comedy act that makes fun of all sorts of persons. Indeed, his show has been full of expletives and suggestive remarks about politicians, news reporters and others to the point that I have wondered before when someone was going to call him to task for it.

Should Mr. Imus be forgiven? Well, I would think that he should be. He has apologized and asked for forgiveness. What happens next is not in my area of expertise. What should happen to him is not as important as what will happen to the rest of us. Will you and I now begin to take notice of our language? Will we start to realize that words do hurt and that we really should listen to our mothers when they said, "think before you speak."

Would you like to talk about it? Why not come to church this Sunday? Everyone is welcome and we would love to meet you. Happy Easter. Allen