Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, March, 2018

posted Feb 27, 2018, 9:19 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Feb 27, 2018, 9:20 AM ]

Time For Moving Fences

 

On Ash Wednesday this year while Anne spent her half hour's time in the church sanctuary for the Prayer Vigil, I was waiting in the upper narthex paging through an Upper Room devotional booklet and other devotional materials. Included in the table of contents page of “Evergreen Things” by Harold E. Kohn were various topics such as “Too Busy,” “Spare Us from Suffocation,” “What Is Worship?,” and another one that caught my interest in particular titled “Have You Moved Any Fences Lately?”

The item referencing “Moving Fences” includes this story from World War One telling about three soldiers of Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths marching along together toward the scene of a furious battle. Just as they were about to reach the front line, a live shell suddenly exploded near the Protestant who was killed instantly. At the conclusion of the battle the dead soldier's two companions, having been granted permission from their commanding officer, went to a nearby Catholic parish house to ask the priest if he would consent to bury their Protestant buddy. The kindly priest agreed to perform religious rites over their friend's body, but he explained that the body could not be buried in the parish cemetery, because the graveyard was reserved exclusively for Catholics. However, the priest offered to bury their deceased comrade near the cemetery fence, so that he would be as near as possible to sacred soil.

After the brief burial service was over, the two soldiers immediately returned to their unit and became engaged in another battle. When that fight subsided, the soldier  received a few days furlough. The two surviving buddies then returned to the parish house, and asked the priest if they might see the final resting place of their Protestant friend. The priest then took them to the cemetery and to their astonishment took them inside the fence where he showed them the burial plot of their departed friend. This must be a mistake the two soldiers protested. This can not possibly be the right gravesite. They had seen for themselves the body buried outside the fence.

At that the priest smiled and gently said, “There is no mistake here I assure you. This is indeed your young friend's grave. And it is exactly where he was buried on the day of his death. You see I was not permitted to move the boy's body; but I could move the fence!”

Harold Kohn, the author of this devotional, says that just as the burning sun does not shine for the sake of a few choice flowers, and the rains do not fall to favor only the gardens of the righteous, but rather both pour out their good influences on the whole realm of growing things, likewise the spiritually mature person does not narrowly pick and choose for whom he will care. Kohn goes on to cite the words of poet, Edwin Markham, who wrote the following words in regards to inclusiveness:

 

“He drew a circle that shuts me out — Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in.”

 

Let this Lenten Season be a time for spiritual growth and soul-stretching in the matter of fence moving so that more and more people and needs are included within much broader and wider boundaries of our compassionate concern and loving care.

 

George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries

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