Marvin Repinski: Some time — just step back from the problem

Published 5:13 pm Friday, December 30, 2022

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A Prayer for the New Year:

Our heavenly Father, who by thy love hast made us, and through thy love hast kept us, and in thy love wouldst make us perfect; we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and that we have not loved one another as Christ hath loved us. Thy life is within our souls, but our selfishness hath hindered thee. We have not lived by faith. We have resisted thy Spirit. We have not lived by faith. We have resisted thy Spirit. We have neglected thine inspirations. Forgive what we have been; help us to amend what we are; and in thy Spirit direct what we shall be; that thou mayest come into the full glory of thy creation, in us and in all men; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Under three themes for the coming days, our hearts are both thankful and challenged.

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Compassion: My memories from the years of serving as a pastor of several churches in what we call out-state, are sometimes of long travels to nursing homes and hospitals. The joy for me was the graceful acceptance that was shown to me. When Constance Leader pulled me down to her cheek for a kiss, she said, “Pastor, I’m so lonesome here in Ogilvie; you are so nice to come and see me.”

But a larger “nice” was to visit this former Sunday School teacher and choir member. Though now frail, she was not to be a victim. She returned the compassion to me that she had given over time, to dozens of her neighbors in need for their survival.

All of this reminds me of a paragraph written by the author and scholar Karen Armstrong: “Our differences define us, but our common humanity can redeem us. We just have to open our hearts.”

Participation: When I feel inspired, when I wish to go beyond just what is expected, but more, I live with satisfaction. Joy is not a manufactured commodity purchased at Walmart; it is a result. The end of participating is working with others.

In his book “Hymns to an Unknown God,” author and popular retreat leader, Sam Keen, has seized the insight for all of us. The gain in reading and reflecting on these words are worth reading two — even three times!

“What impels a man or woman on this great venture is not the expectation of arrival but a sense of vocation. Something calls my name and demands that I respond. The voice does not say, “Eliminate all suffering and create the heavenly city.” It says, “The gifts you have are needed to heal the disease of your time. You are an architect — shape space carefully to create better buildings and a more humane city for all citizens. You are a banker — work to create a more sustainable economy. You are a farmer — tend the land so it will be fertile for generations to come. You are a physician — attend to the healing of the whole person. You are a cook — prepare meals that delight the palate and nourish the body. You are a parent — take time to enjoy and guide your children. You are a CEO — create and market only those products that increase the common good. You are a soldier — minimize violence, keep the peace, and when you must fight, do so without hatred or the bitterness of revenge. You are a television producer — create stories that dignify, increase empathy, and inspire compassion. And so on.

Humor: The word I often use in my speaking and writing is ecumenical. In short, it may mean the gathering of various religious communities making decisions that they work with, humor, and expand their understanding of differing religious views. May some laughter, which reflects various marks, practices of people we love, over-stating possibly be at least worth a smile.

Recently, just as an ecumenical gathering was commencing, a secretary rushed in shouting, “The building is on fire!” The Methodists gathered in a corner and prayed. The Baptists cried, “Where is the water?” The Quakers quietly praised God for blessings that fire brings. The Lutherans posted a notice on the door declaring that fire was evil. The Roman Catholics passed the plate to cover the damage. The Jews posted symbols on the doors hoping the fire would pass. The Congregationalists shouted, “Every man for himself.” The Fundamentalists proclaimed, “It’s the vengeance of God!” The Episcopalians formed a procession and marched out. The Christian Scientists concluded that the fire would burn itself out. The Presbyterians appointed a chairperson, who was to appoint a committee to look into the matter and submit a written report. The Unity students proclaimed the fire had no power over them. Some atheists in attendance didn’t believe there was a fire. The secretary grabbed the fire extinguisher and put out the fire. The Mormons, having arrived 15 minutes late, missed the fire completely!

To you and to all, especially supporters of the Austin Daily Herald, A BLESSED NEW YEAR!