Rights & Responsibilities
After all of these years, I still have the pocket-edition copy of the United States Constitution that was handed out to every student in the 6th Grade at East Elementary in Portland, Indiana. As you can see, my homeroom teacher was Mrs. Poole. Also, if you look at the picture on the right you will see that we were encourage to write on the inside cover (on Feb. 25th 1992): “Remember, with your rights come responsibilities.” Obviously my spelling and handwriting left much to be desired in February, 1992, but I have always remembered that point.
It is remarkably similar to something Martin Luther wrote almost five hundred years ago in his powerful pamphlet The Freedom of a Christian:
“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”
We are blessed with many rights and freedoms, both as Christians and as Americans. In times like this it is important to remember BOTH our rights AND our responsibilities.
In the last week two pastors have run afoul of the law because they refuse to stop in-person worship services at their churches despite the COVID-19 virus. I guess they think they are exercising their First Amendment rights. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I strongly disagree with their decisions. Whether these pastors have the right to keep gathering is up for debate, but their responsibility to their congregations, communities, and to the most vulnerable should be absolutely clear: they should NOT BE HOLDING IN-PERSON WORSHIP SERVICES.
We have many rights; we also have great responsibilities and we use our freedoms to the fullest when we use them to care for one another. It was with sadness that we decided to suspend in-person worship throughout April, truly, but I have no doubts about the decision.
I love Holy Week: the journey from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday is one of the most important times of the year for me. The darkness of Good Friday makes the light of Easter morning so much brighter for me and I look forward to it every year. I am sad, but completely resolute in our decision. I have peace in my heart because we are taking on the responsibility of caring for each other and those around us.
Friends in Christ, I will miss seeing you all face-to-face in the coming weeks, but I know that Martin Luther, Saint Francis, Saint Paul, and our Lord Jesus tell us that it is in giving that we receive, losing that we gain, and in helping that we are helped.
We have so many rights but they come with responsibilities, and when we take on our responsibilities we understand the true nature of freedom.
A blessed Holy Week and Happy Easter to you all,