Message from the Pastor

Rev. Sundar SamuelS

Dear Members and friends,

It was spring morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, awoke, dressed himself, and sat down for breakfast. As he flipped the pages of the morning paper, he was astonished to find his own obituary! Nobel spent his life amassing a fortune from the manufacture and sale of weapons. On that April morning, a premature obituary changed human history.

In fact, Alfred Nobel’s brother had died. Yet reading this summary of his own life left Alfred overwhelmed. He saw himself as the world truly saw him-“the dynamite king,” the great industrialist who made an immense fortune from explosives. The obituary accurately reported his business achievements, but captured none of his true intentions. Nobel had dreamed of a world where there would be no more wars. He wanted ignorance, prejudice, and poverty brought to an end. The obituary characterized him as one who had made a fortune by discovering new ways to mutilate and kill, not as a man of peace.

As he read his death notice, Nobel resolved that his last will and testament would be the expression of his dearest ideals. These moments were the beginning of the “Nobel Peace Prize.” The most prestigious honor bestowed to those who seek a more humane world is the result of a journalist error.

I believe through our lives we are writing a living legacy. As we rise and go about our routines, a subscript is being added-a legacy others perceive but perhaps cannot clearly see. The way we use our resources speaks perhaps of far different values when viewed by others. Day by day, each of us prepares a legacy with a sub-text that reads “being of sound mind, I hereby bequeath to the world…”

P.A. Emerson writes that “too many of us act as if we are dead already because we fail to understand it is never too late to begin a lasting and positive legacy. Each one of us weather rich or poor struggles with this question: “What legacy will I leave?” We all struggle with the complications of life. Will we believe and behave as a spiritual lightweight or heavyweight? Neither our wealth nor our debts determine our ultimate worth. It is what we do with the resources with which we have been entrusted by God that makes a huge and long lasting difference in people’s lives in the world.

John Wesley the founder of Methodism knew that we take no material possessions beyond the grave. He died with only a few pennies in his purse, yet his legacy to the world is enormous. He wrote, “I prefer that my own hands be the executors of what I possess” He was meticulous not to accumulate wealth but, rather, to be certain he gave all he could to meeting the needs of the poor.

Consider, by contrast, Howard Hughes-one of the wealthiest men in human history. As his life came to an end, we find Hughes emaciated and alone in a hotel in Las Vegas. Hughes’ wealth pushed U.S. science into new frontiers, put a camera on the moon, and helped communication satellites orbit the globe. He did leave his mark. Yet think what more he might have given. His existence funneled down to a small, darkened bedroom, where his gold and silver served no other purpose than to buy him total seclusion.

I believe generosity is more a matter of spiritual self-understanding than it is a matter of financial planning. People give because they have some sense of their relationship with the Holy One and that frees them to know how to best use their checkbooks. Author Donald Rebill writes: “it’s the question of the dog and the tail. Does our faith wag our pocketbook or does our bank account wag our convictions? The scriptural vision calls for a faith which influences pocketbooks.”

Alfred Nobel, after reading his own obituary, transcended his own personal self-concern. In order to leave a significant legacy, we need to first come to terms with the legacy we have already received. This is the message from the biblical texts in Romans 13: 8-14 and Matthew 18: 21-35. God has already given to us, and it is our response, our faith that leads to a re-valuing of our everyday expectations.

My prayers are with you and yours this summer and all the activities in which you will be involved: in your travels to near and distant places of interest, your family gatherings, sports and cultural events. May you find rest and relaxation and the joy of spending time together and making memories with family members and friends. Have a safe and blessed summer. May God bless and keep you!

 

Peace and joy,

Pastor Sundar