My sweetheart came home last night and related the following story to me:
A friend of ours is helping organize an Easter Egg Hunt and brunch. This event is designed to allow families to gather together, the kids to have fun searching for eggs left by the Easter Bunny and the adults to spend time together chatting and enjoying each others company. It is the kind of event where you don't have to have children to participate, just bring a brunch dish to share. It is the kind of event like many others being planned for this holiday weekend. In fact, I will be going to one such event myself today.
Why the need for the rant you may ask? Well as Paul Harvey would say, "Here's the rest of the story" The fact that this event is scheduled to be held on Sunday morning (see brunch) had our friend being told that she is not Christian.
"Say what!", I responded when Rick told me this. I knew I must have misunderstood. There is no way anyone who knows our friend would ever use that label in describing her. In fact, she would not divulge the name of the individual who used the term even for those of us willing to take up her cause and defend her to someone so ignorant. She only related the story because she was so shocked and hurt by the words. Yes people, words can hurt and the fact that this incident was related and not brushed off lets me know how much it did hurt.
I have known my friend for almost eight years. I have never known her to be anything but gracious. Even though we do not belong to the same religion, she never fails to ask about my children. She was excited for us when our eldest came home from his mission and when our second son received his mission call to Japan. I have seen her reach out to others time and again, even when I knew she was going through her own personal trials. She knows the importance of community and service to the community and those around her. Many times I have seen her brush off an ill thought remark and continue to offer aid to the individual. I have so much respect for this woman.
The term Christian means all that is noble, and good and Christ-like. At this time of year I find myself reflecting more often on the life of Jesus Christ and His teachings. Last week I was able to listen to those I sustain as my religious leaders discuss many of these same topics. Here are some of the things that I feel I can do to show that I am a disciple (follower) of Christ:
1. Christ taught that we are all sons and daughters of God. (The parable of the Good Samaritan and his teaching of the woman at the well.) He also instructed that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, but the second greatest commandment is to love thy neighbor as thyself. Differences in race, sex, ethnic background or religion should be irrelevant.
2. Christ taught us not to judge one another. He said that he who is without sin should cast the first stone. During the recent LDS General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (one of my personal favorites to listen to) shared this quote he had seen on a bumper sticker, "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you." Jesus taught that none of us are perfect. And as President Uchtdorf illustrated, differences do not equate as wrong doing.
3. Christ showed compassion for all. Not only did He suffer for my sins so that through His Atonement I can receive Eternal Life, but even as He hung on the cross he showed compassion for the thief hanging beside Him when He promised this man that they would be together in Paradise and He made sure His mother would be comforted and cared for by asking His beloved Apostle John to see to her. If Christ could show compassion at a time, how can I not show compassion as well?
4. Christ taught us to serve. From helping at a wedding to insure there was enough refreshment for all to washing the feet of the Apostles, He showed that no man should place himself above another. We cannot do it all alone and neither can our neighbor. Sometimes service is not convenient (Stilling the storm-tossed sea) and sometimes we may be tired (Blessing the children), but service still needs to occur.
5. Christ taught us to forgive. He did not say that we must continue to let ourselves be hurt, but we must forgive. He understood that oft times individuals hurt us not out of intent, but out of ignorance. The process of forgiveness is one that will bring us closer to God.
So Happy Easter Everyone! Whether we revere Jesus Christ as our Savior or as a prophet or as a great intellect and philosopher, may we all take some time to ponder His teachings and how their application can better our daily lives. And may the Easter Bunny leave many chocolate filled eggs at whatever egg hunt you attend!