Thursday, April 17, 2014

R.E.S.P.E.C.T, the ROBBER, and the EMPTY BOX

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, the ROBBER and the EMPTY BOX

RESPECT is hard to define.  It's one of those words that could be defined by simply using the word itself.  For many years, I've pondered about what it means, but more, I've pondered about how to explain it. Though I know I could open a dictionary and find the definition, I wanted the definition to represent what RESPECT has meant to me. In trying to explain or define RESPECT, it was easier to list examples of ways to carry out RESPECT, which led me to this definition:

"An unselfish verbal or physical expression of care, admiration, appreciation or love for someone or something that has demonstrated a high quality of value."

Recently, I attended the memorial service of a woman who I met when we served on our local Girl Scout service team.  Dorothy, a multi-talented person, was one of the most actively involved people I've ever been blessed to work with.  She was a doer, a mover and a shaker, as they say.  But she could also be an "in your face" kind of person when she wanted to get her point across. That's one of the characters that stuck with me for years until I celebrated her life with her family and friends. Her son, husband, and pastor talked about her yearning to know the Lord through studying and teaching his Word, favorite hymns and scriptures.  And then I was reminded why I had come to Dorothy's memorial service: because I respected her, because I wanted her husband and family to know that I "cared for them. I appreciated her. I admired her for the high quality of love she demonstrated for her Lord, her family, her church and our community."

As part of our Lenten focus, we have been doing monologues of the characters from the Passion (of Jesus Christ) Week at our church.  The characters' stories go along with a Hymn.  Because "Just as I am," is one of my many favorite hymns, I chose this reading which was the story of one of the robbers that hung on a cross next to Jesus.  As I began to read the monologue, I was wondering about what it would have been like to be there during the last week of Jesus' life.  I read and re-read the story, with the hopes that I could memorize most of it, and use very little notes. During my last attempt to rehearse with very little notes, the Holy Spirit moved in me and I was filled with emotion and tears.  The story had gone from "those" characters of the Passion story, to sounding all too familiar.  Sadly and tearfully, I realized that I was not reading the part of the ROBBER of the Passion story, but I was acting out my own life, my greed, my confession. I was asking Jesus to remember me in Paradise.  Each time I think of this, emotion grips me.

I try to keep a box of sympathy cards instead of buying one when needed.  By the end of this week, I will have attended four funerals in a three-week period for husbands of three friends and one friend. My card box, my sympathy card box is nearly empty.  

These three things: RESPECT, the ROBBER and the EMPTY BOX are inter-related.  They are all about life and about death, about death and life.  We attend memorial services and funerals because we RESPECT the person's life and family.  Our own mortality is right in front of our face when we realize it is not just their life that Jesus came to save, but ours, too. Seeing that our own greed has ROBBED us from a better life, we need to be saved. We remember that the EMPTY BOX represents our sympathy for grieving families, and a reminder of what is left on earth.

Heavenly Father:  I respectfully confess that my own choices have robbed me from loving you in ways that I should. Thank you for loving me enough to remember me in paradise.  AMEN

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world (that means you and me), that he gave his only begotten Son ( gave his only child to die for you and me, not because we earned it, but because he loved us so much), that who so ever believes in Him (admit you do wrong, believe that he is your Savior, and ask him to come into your heart to be your Lord) shall not perish but have eternal life (will not die and be damned to hell, but live with Jesus in heaven with all the believers who have gone before you). 


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