Dear Friends, members, neighbors, and supporters of Siloa Church;
As fall approaches, and as we prepare for national elections in November, there is a great conversation going on about the importance of sound character in our community and political leaders. The recent death of Senator John McCain provided a national moment of reflection on this question. Senator McCain is respected by many people across the political spectrum as being a man of strong character, strong principles, and of being a genuine patriot who served his country both in the armed services and in the Congress.
It is hard to imagine how he survived being a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, enduring injury, illness, hardship and torture for five and a half years. Obviously, he had to be strong, brave, and he had to dig deep down into his character to guide him in the choices he would have to make.
On Sunday, September 2, our Gospel lesson described how Jesus encouraged his disciples to take care of what was in their hearts and to exercise care in all that they said and all that they did. Their character, their example, their words and actions would hurt or heal, condemn or forgive, tear down or build up, promote hatred or love.
Mark 7: 20 - 23 And Jesus said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’
The disciples had been criticized for not being careful with some of the old religious customs, practices and rituals. Jesus used that opportunity to remind those who were listening that the quality of our actions, and our words, and our character were what were key to the good, holy and faithful life God calls us to live. That is because good character is all about putting others first and being willing to sacrifice and to serve a greater good while setting aside, as needed, one's selfish desires.
As you read this, you might be thinking, "Well this is all very obvious!" Yet, it seems we can all use a reminder that we need to encourage good character in all those we teach and care for. And, we have to strive in our own selves, and ask for God's help to be the best examples of God's children that we can be.
It is something to think about as we vote for, and pray for, and work to support our leaders in the church, in our community and in our nation and world.
Peace, Pastor Dan Olson