Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Light Bulb Moment

I am not an UBER religious person.  I believe in God, and try to live by his principles.  I joined the United Church at 16, sang in the choir, married in the church, had my children baptized - all the normal average things.   But then I went many years without even attending.  Seemed like all my energies went into my work week, and I never took the time to think about God per se.
Now that I'm retired, and the 'BOSS OF MY OWN LIFE', I am slowly re-discovering my faith.  I renewed my membership in the church last November, and it's been a great experience to learn more and more about my faith.
I have had the privilege for some 15 months now of being the volunteer transcriber of the weekly sermons.  It gives me such a good feeling to know that many people who are not able to attend weekly services, (shut-ins due to illness, disabilities, etc.) are able to receive a 'hard copy' of the sermons.  It also really helps 'cement' the message in my old noggin to type them out and really think about the content.  We are blessed to have two Ministers at Robertson-Wesley, both of them are great speakers, and their sermons are chockfull of good messages, good guidance for your life in weekly doses! 
Like I said, I am not UBER religious, but I am learning that I too can make a contribution to this Earth, however humble. 
Recently, when the Moderator of the United Church of Canada, the Right Reverend Gary Paterson, visited Edmonton - in part to help us celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Robertson-Wesley United Church.  I was so inspired by his message.  And, of course, I then had the privilege of transcribing it.  What a blessing!  There was one part of his uplifting sermon that exploded a light bulb in my head.    It was near the end of the sermon, when he quoted from a poem by Dorothee Solle:
“Jesus, He needs you
That’s all there is to it.”
Reverend Paterson went on to say "Without you, he goes up in Dachau’s smoke;  is left hanging, is sugar and spice in the baker’s hands, gets revalued at the next stock market crash, is usurped, used up, thrown away, without you.  Help him.  That’s what Faith is.  He couldn’t bring it about – His Kingdom.  Couldn’t then, couldn’t later,  can’t now; not at least, without you.  And that is his irresistible appeal."
BOLT OF LIGHTNING to the very core of my soul !!  Perhaps it struck me so hard and with such clarity because at the age of 8, when my father, John McGrath King, Senior, a Canadian soldier, was posted to Hemer, Germany, and our family joined him there, we visited the German concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.
Bear in mind, this was only ten years following the end of WW II and all of its atrocities.  (In my young impressionable mind, I could still hear the screams, the shrieks, the crying....)  That visit, that walk through the site where millions of Jews were exterminated, had a lifelong effect on me.  I walked down into the acid pits, I saw the barracks where emaciated Jews were stacked 20 to a wooden plank, I saw the hills of grass with little white signs that merely said:  Hier Ruhen 2,500 Tote...(Here Lie Buried 2,500 Bodies) April 25, 1945.  All the signs were identical.  Only the dates and numbers varied.  Hier Ruhen 3,000 Tote....Hier Ruhen 4,000 Tote. 
As we walked, my father took my little hand in his.  We never spoke a word.  Maybe our silence honoured the dead.  The children.  The mothers.  The fathers.  The grandparents.  Lined up on the edge of acid pits to be shot or beaten to death.  Their crime was simply that they were different.
We approached a rectangular flat topped building.  My father sat down outside on a pile of stones  There were no windows.  The doors were gone.  I went inside alone.  The interior was dark and damp, smelling vaguely sweet.  Showerheads were spaced at regular intervals in the ceiling.  When I exited, I knew that I would never again play the games of an eight year old.  I had leapt from hopscotch to horror.  The chill, the odors, the imagined screams, would remain with me forever.
I ran outside to the outstretched arms of my father.   It was the only time I ever saw him cry.
When Reverend Paterson said "Without you, he goes up in Dachau’s smoke....", this memory from decades past crystallized for me.  I had always known that we need Jesus, that I need Jesus in my life.  But never had it occurred to me that Jesus needs ME!  Without US, without ME, His message burned up in the smoke of Dachau, in the smoke of Bergen-Belsen's gas ovens.  Without US, without ME, to walk my life's journey trying to live by his values and principles, by example being a conduit for others, it all meant nothing, means nothing.  It did not end there, in the smoke from the crematoriums, if YOU and I carry his message onward in our daily lives.   It must not end there!  Don't let it end THERE!
I encourage everyone to make time in your daily life to sit peacefully and talk with whomever you believe in - your 'Higher Power'.   Thank Him or Her for the many blessings bestowed upon you, the wonderful gifts that you take for granted.  Slow down and smell the roses.  Don't wait until you are retired.  Delight in the moments of life and its relationships.  Do a good job at whatever you do.  Love your family.  Be of service to others.  Jesus needs you!  He needs US.  He needs ME! 
As we embody his principles, carry his messages, surely the atrocities of Dachau and Bergen-Belsen will never happen again.
Like I said, I am a 'work in progress Christian'.  I have so very much to learn.  Reverend Paterson's sermon was life changing for me, life altering!  I hope that each and every one of you has such a breakthrough experience in your life.

Wendy King