Saturday Sermon: Goodwill creates, heals and empowers life
"Act now. Act now to save your life and your loved ones' lives. Do not wait or delay. Act now."
I believe that a meteorologist said words to this effect live on Oklahoma City television recently when that massive tornado struck Moore, Okla. Perhaps the loss of life might have been even greater if this message had not been given.
Perhaps it is easier to heed a warning to protect our physical safety when the danger is visible. But what about our spiritual safety - when the danger seems more difficult to recognize?
I heard it explained during the Oklahoma tornado coverage that the first thing the authorities do during disaster recovery is to put the street signs back up so that residents know where they are and where they are headed.
Perhaps the truth in the signs of trouble in our lives that we do not want to face is that it can be so easy to get wrapped up in our concerns at home, work, school, faith community or any of the places that we might spend our time.
We then find ourselves suffering that slow, spiritual death of frustration and self-centeredness with which we punish others and ourselves in making drama, addiction, fighting, abuse and constant complaining without offering solutions.
However, so many people also seem to experience that nagging awareness that things could be better than they are and that something can be done about it.
Please allow me at this point to paraphrase religious reformer Martin Luther: "That . upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your God."
I suggest that as fellow humans we all set our hearts upon and put our trust in something. In disasters especially - whether or not we profess a formal religious faith - we seem to look to goodwill from others: This goodwill creates and sustains life through human relationships.
This goodwill offers healing, as it seems to rise unexpectedly out of large-scale and personal disasters and sufferings.
This goodwill drives and empowers us to share it with others in ways that tend to give us fulfillment and improve life for others.
I believe that the reassurance in the signs and workings of goodwill is that we are empowered to "act now to save our lives and our loved ones' lives."
I see us acting now in the spirit of this goodwill to reach out to the suffering and expand the circle of who our loved ones are. I see our shared goodwill mission becoming more important than our differences.
May you experience the creativity, healing and empowerment of this goodwill as you act now to share it!
Karl Biermann serves as pastor at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Cuero, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.