Today's Lectionary Text
Micah 6:8God has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
My dad, a United Methodist clergy, died on this date in 2003. This was one of the texts read at his service, and I didn’t realize until hearing it read how fitting it was for him. Rev. Harry Williams was never lead pastor at a tall steeple church. He served one term as a district superintendent, but only lasted five years (he hated being in the middle of everyone’s anger and frustration). Most of the churches he served were small. I think most of what he did was try to be kind.
In one of those churches, the local psychiatrist asked him to go visit a patient on the psych ward who was on suicide watch. The psychiatrist made this request: “Don’t tell him God loves him. He knows that. Tell him you love him. That’s what he needs to hear.” I’m not sure Dad needed to be told that. It was that sort of compassion that seemed to come naturally to him.
Later in his career Dad was just about the only member of his conference who went to visit a colleague imprisoned for sexual assault, not excusing his crime but because he was still a child of God. After retiring he would drink coffee and tell terrible puns and dispense sage advice when asked with the younger clergy.
In these days of denominational animosity when every side is trying to be right and righteous, I pray that we can be kind along the way. There are important issues at stake, I know, but we are called to be in ministry with people - not issues. It is not up to us to determine who deserves to be loved, only to find ways to love. I’m not sure what words of sage advice Dad would have for us these days, but I pray that at our memorials these would be fitting words for us, too.
-Rev. Doyle Burbank-Williams
Lincoln New Visions Community UMC
Prayer for Reflection
God of the journey, you invite us to walk beside you, to do the actions that build each other up, and in all things to be compassionate. Forgive us that we make it so hard. Amen.
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