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In my Life and Teachings of Jesus class, we were exploring definitions of Standards of Righteousness when we came across “The Rule”:

 

So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is a law and the prophets.  (Matt 7: 12).

 

This is “The Golden Rule”.  It is “The Rule” of all rules.  It can be found in all the major religions of the world.  Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism all have some form of this saying, but most state it in a negative way:  If you know how you don’t want to be treated, then you know how others don’t want to be treated.  This is sometimes referred to as “the Silver Rule”.

 

I think many would agree that the version Jesus gave us is far more open-minded and challenging.  It speaks from a position of compassion and care to be extended to another rather than that which may inevitably require some form of apology, the seeking of forgiveness and ultimately, hopefully, reconciliation.  Those certainly are not bad things, but to start from goodness, from Love, knowing how we wish to be treated, and letting that guide us in our treatment of others seems to be the better course.

 

But then it requires some introspection on our part about how we wish to be treated.

 

For awhile now, I’ve been walking a path of discernment, praying about a call to new ministry.  I believe I have been called to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA).  I didn’t come to this easily.  Others in my life for some time felt I had a call, but I didn’t hear, often resisted it, and would have nothing of it.  Eventually, though, God broke through to touch my heart, and open my eyes, ears and mind.  So I started walking deliberately in a new direction.

 

To make this long story short, I had to spend much time in prayer, quiet reflection, and active writing to respond to the question of call for my church.  It was spent in time with trusted people, caring others, and some strangers to share who and what I am, and what I offer in continuing service to God.  After meeting with the diocesan Committee on Priesthood, who I affectionately refer to as “the COPs”, they deemed me acceptable to present to my Bishop for Postulancy, a.k.a., further formation for Holy Orders.

 

In their letter of recommendation to the Bishop, they wrote the following:

 

“Kindness is one of his essential attributes.  He is definitely a pastor – and will always be one.”

 

WOW!  That really touched me.  Kindness.  That, in a word, is basically my answer to this reflection about the Golden Rule.  That is how I want to be treated.  That is how I hope I treat others.

 

When I met with the Bishop last week, our time was too short, but it was enough.  I was accepted as a new Postulant.  That initial invitation from God to walk this path of service has been echoed by others in the church along the way, and now the Bishop has said “Come”.  When he asked me to comment on the COP’s letter, I clarified some things, offered some others, and then responded to the recognition of Kindness.  Afterward, the Bishop shared that he sensed a pastoral heart within me, that he could see how I would set people at ease about me, that he, himself, was calming as we sat together.  It was just another affirmation along the way.  Thank you, God.

 

Kindness abounds in my life, and I am blessed because of it.  My wife, Heart Of My Heart, is the daily personification of Kindness in my life.  Much of what any may see in me as kind has been learned from this wonderful woman who shares her life with me.  My families, the immediate one which bore me, and the extended one which accepted me, demonstrate regular instances of kindness to me and for others.  The people of Grace Church, my home of faith and worship, is such a great well of Kindness through all that they are, everything they do, and in that which we share.

 

Those are current examples of Kindness that fuel me, and help me see how I wish to be treated, and inform me about how to treat others.  There were many before them, and through God’s Grace, there will surely be more after them.

 

Kindness.  It is a quality of being warmhearted, and considerate, and humane, and sympathetic.  All those things point to kindness as one of the characteristics, or attributes, of God.  We were made in the image of God.  His kindness is great and never-ending.  May ours strive to be like His.

 

One of my favorite casual shirts says “Human kindness.  Be both.”

 

The Rule is, and ever shall be, “Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.”  Be Kind.