Each day our Pastor will post a message to keep us connected while the Church is closed.
Day 61, May 13, 2020
“A Reverence for Life”
He might have been considered a silly man. You might see him walking carefully on a path, guarding each step to avoid stepping on bugs and plants. You might see him bending down to move a worm from the road, setting the worm on soft ground so that it could live. You might see him using a small hook to rescue an insect from drowning. He was aware that others often thought him ridiculous. He might have been considered a silly man.
But this man held a deep reverence for life. This reverence for life led him, a man who was a famous theologian, pastor, concert organist and medical doctor, to go to a poor African village hospital and spend most of his life as a missionary. He might have been considered a silly man. Instead, what might have been considered foolishness was recognized as profound greatness when he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. His name was Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Dr. Schweitzer tried to treat all life with reverence, even in its smallest forms. He wrote:
“Do not go after spectacular displays of love—it is likely that in your whole life you won’t experience them—but, rather, build from the bottom up. Do the insignificant and the hidden things that are much more difficult than the acknowledgedly grand gesture. Then you will do the grand gesture as it ought to be done and is done in the spirit of Jesus: unconsciously.”
“A Reverence for Life” is the title of a book written by Dr. Schweitzer. In it he tells of his concern for the smallest of insects and plants. In it he tells of his concern for the greatest of human problems, medical, social, emotional, and physical suffering. It is a humbling book in that it is so easy to race through life without reverence. While the book is humbling, it is also very inspiring. As humans we have the potential to live with a reverence for life, to be aware of the beauty and wonder of all God’s creation. Dr. Schweitzer was dedicated to causes that truly impacted the world, and for this he was rightfully recognized. While addressing great causes, his book also includes a story that involves just a simple encounter between two human beings. I love knowing that a great man like Dr. Albert Schweitzer was able to see just how important an encounter between two people can be. Maybe the great things in life begin with recognizing that the person next to us is of incredible value, of incredible worth, and because of that, the person next to us is worthy of our kindness and our concern. That is what it means to have a reverence for life. Here is the simple story that impacted a great man like Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
“A Parisian trolley conductor was asked by a passenger of his car why he looked so sad. To that this response: ‘You are the first person with heart whom I have encountered today. The whole day long I have discharged my service and not been able to master the pain. I have a child dying at home. You are the first who has seen that I am sad and who has said a comforting word to me. For the others I was not a person, but only a man who had a service to perform.’”
That story touches my heart. That story also worries me. The man was wearing a sad look. His pain was written all over his face, and yet only one person noticed. For the foreseeable future, we are going to be wearing masks. If it was easy to miss a man’s pain when his face was visible to all, how will we be able to recognize the pain people experience when we all wear masks?
Maybe Dr. Schweitzer’s attention to insects, bugs, and plants offer some clues on how to notice things like sadness and pain in a world where all wear masks. Walk slowly. Tread softly. Look carefully. Listen intently. Notice the small things. And pay attention. At all times, pay attention. Behind every mask is a person. Behind every mask is a child of God. Behind every mask is someone God created. Behind every mask is someone loved by God. Behind every mask is a chance to show a reverence for life. Now more than ever, may our reverence for life be evident to all through acts of kindness, concern, compassion, and care.
With the love of Christ,
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