This weekend, Aug. 24-26, there were three men who passed away, two I respected and one taught me a lot. Sen. John McCain and Neil Simon, I respected deeply for different reasons. The third, Loren Broadus, one of my professors at Lexington Theological Seminary (and the person after whom my youngest was named).
Sen. McCain defended his country and served as a member of Congress. I didn’t always agree with his politics, but he was an honorable man who spoke with passion and dignity. He didn’t call people names, he pushed people to make wise decisions and to consider various views.
Neil Simon wrote two of my favorite plays, “The Odd Couple” and “Barefoot in the Park.” I know that both were made into movies, which I remember watching on TV, but I read the plays before I saw the movies. They dealt with people facing challenges when life changes. It lifted up hope and love especially when we don’t get exactly what we want and when others push our buttons.
Loren Broadus taught courses in church administration and authored many books that have helped me. He also became a friend along with his wife, Catherine, who watched over Marsha and I while we waited for Lauren to arrive in the world.
Loren wrote several books, which both Marsha and I have read and still keep, including How to Stop Procrastinating & Start Living, Ethics for Real People, Responses to Suffering; Yours and Mine, and Play; It’s not just for kids! co-authored with Catherine. They both led weekend clergy couples retreat while we were in Kentucky and always made sure that it wasn’t about getting work done, but about spending time with your partner and friends.
In a world where caring for others seems to depend upon if we like the person; that they agree with us; that they support the same things we support. If they don’t, then we are allowed to insult, deride, and castigate those people.
As Christians, we have to remember that Jesus taught us to love others, especially those who are a challenge. We are taught that we are not to judge another because we are also to be judged. We are taught to guide others in love and support, to help those who are the most in need.
We, as Christians, are not encouraged to insult and call names. We are not encouraged to reject people because they are not like us. We are not encouraged to dismiss people because they are troubled or struggling or different; rather we are to love as we have been loved by God.
In honor of these brothers of earth, we should seek to live as people seeking to bring others together, regardless of differences. We should seek to let others know they are loved and welcome in our communities. We should forgive, for we have all been forgiven much.