Our Lives are not Our Own

  • Posted on Dec 1, 2011

As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:18-20

Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. Andrew. Andrew was one of the first disciples to be called by Jesus. He is mentioned several times in the Gospels and, in three separate incidents, Andrew brings other people to Christ (John 1:41ff; 6:5ff, 12:20ff) In parts of the Anglican communion, St. Andrewstide is often observed as a special time of intercession for the mission of the Church.

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day and therefore an appropriate day of prayer in St Andrewstide!

The combination of Advent, St. Andrew’s Day and World AIDS Day leads me to ponder what it means to follow Jesus. At our Tuesday morning Peace and Justice Eucharist this week, I was struck by the phrase in the paragraph we read about Andrew from the Anglican Church in Canada. The phrase that has been working on me is this: When Andrew left his net to follow Jesus, his life was no longer his own. No longer his own? This is decidely so deeply counter-cultural for an American individualist to consider. What does it mean to follow Jesus and accept that our life is no longer our own?

Preparing for Emily Cox’s funeral tomorrow has underscored for me what it means to live a life not our own. A good funeral preparation will always do this for in preparing to celebrate the life of one of God’s good and faithful servants shows what it means to follow Jesus. Emily’s ninety years on this earth are testament to what that phrase means. Emily served her country during World War II and was stationed in Paris and other parts of France during her time overseas. Although she lost her husband of five years in the 1950s and never had children of her own, she considered her neice and godson as her children. She gave her life to then, her country, to the city of Baltimore and to her family and friends. She spent a good deal of time at the Waxter Senior Center playing Scrabble. She hosted large Thanksgiving and holiday dinners. And she loved her church. The fountain in our renovated garden is in memory of her husband and it was such a lovely surprise when she made the contribution that enabled that fountain to become a reality. Now, when anyone walks by our garden–a MICA student, a neighbor walking a dog, a child on the way to the pool in the summer– and sees and hears the fountain, they are blessed with a moment of peace and hope. That was Emily. Here every Sunday and altar guild at most all Memorial Apartment Eucharists. Faithful and true. She knew that her life was not her own–but belonged to the community to show the glory of God. 

In reflecting on Emily’s life, it is a good and freeing thing to know that one’s life is not one’s own. That our lives are an integral part of building the Kingdom of God. That we matter beyond ourselves. That we matter to God. 

Join us for a Celebration of Emily Cox’s life at 11 am at Memorial Church tomorrow, Friday, December 2. We also gather Friday evening for dinner together in community at 6 pm with a meal cooked with love by Earl Huch and Lois Eldred in Upper Farnham Hall followed by Advent Lessons and Carols by candlelight in the church at 7 pm.

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