Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Organ and Tissue Donation

In December my cousin David, age 39, died suddenly of a very unexpected heart attack.  It has been a journey of grief for all of us in the family and we will long remember his life and celebrate the gift he was to us.  Recently I called his mother and found out that she received a letter from the hospital telling her about all of the recipients of David’s organs and tissue which he donated.  David had put it on his driver’s license that he was willing to be an organ donor and after his death he gave sight to two blind people and a number of people (27) received other organs and tissues.  David’s mother was elated to think how his life continued to live on through these anonymous recipients.  Two of them wrote “thank you” letters to her.  What a cause of rejoicing in the midst of sorrow!

Organ and tissue donation is vitally important for many people who are on waiting lists around the world.  In addition there are donations of blood, platelets and bone marrow that people can give to others as living donors.  People also are able to give one kidney to someone on a waiting list and still live on with one kidney while another will get a chance to live with the donation of their healthy kidney.   A donor does not even need to be a match for the person receiving the kidney as there are ways that multiple donors and recipients can be connected in order that more can be helped.

Recently at a district meeting I met a man who is on a kidney transplant list at Einstein Medical Center.  He is waiting for a kidney and he is praying every day for God to provide.  If anyone would be interested in assisting that person with a kidney donation I can help you be in touch with him.  In addition I urge everyone to consider putting “organ donor” on their government-issued ID or driver’s license and also consider taking the time to give blood and even bone marrow when the opportunities present themselves.  Everything we are: body, soul and spirit is a gift from God for us to be good stewards.  How can you give of yourself in new ways to the glory of God?  The possibilities are endless.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Life is Sacred

I believe that life is sacred: all life, every life, from the beginning until the end.  Life is sacred because we all reflect the image of the holy, when I look at another, I am privileged to see the sacred image of God reflected in the face of one of God’s beloved children.  This is why gun violence, any gun violence breaks my heart.  There may be little we can do to stop it, but I support actions taken to slow it down. Since 1976 the United Methodist Church has affirmed its faith through vigorous efforts to curb gun violence.  Not much has changed in the past forty years except the fact that we are still marring the sacred image with bullets.

In the past our government has chosen to turn a blind eye to the causes of gun violence, because if there are not reliable statistics kept we can make no reliable changes to our laws.  Even though the government can do more, we as United Methodists have our part to play if we want to help to be part of the solution to this growing problem.  In the resolution that our church reaffirmed there are eleven actions your church can take to reduce violence affecting the lives of children and youth.  How many have you done?

  1. Gather as a community to discuss ways by which the United Methodist Church should respond to this growing tragedy, and to determine what role the church should take to facilitate dialogue to address the issue of gun violence in our schools and among our children;
  2. Educate the community on gun safety, violence prevention, adult responsibility around gun-violence, and the public health impact of gun violence;
  3. Identify community-based, state and national organizations working on the issues of gun violence, and seek their assistance to design education and prevention workshops around issues of gun violence and its effects upon children and youth;
  4. Develop advocacy groups within local congregations to advocate for eventual reduction of the availability of guns in society with a particular emphasis upon handguns, handgun ammunition, assault weapons, automatic weapons, automatic weapon conversion kits and guns that cannot be detected by traditionally used metal-detection devices.  These groups can be linked to community-based, state and national organizations working on gun and violence issues;
  5. Support federal legislation in the U.S. Congress to regulate the importation, manufacturing, sale and possession of guns and ammunition by the general public.  Such legislation should include provisions for the registration and licensing of gun purchasers and owners, appropriate background investigation and waiting periods prior to gun purchases, and regulation of subsequent sale;
  6. Call upon all governments of the world in which there is a United Methodist presence to establish national bans on ownership by the general public of handguns, assault weapons, automatic weapon conversion kits, and weapons that cannot be detected by traditionally used metal-detection devices;
  7. Call upon the print, broadcasting and electronic media, as well as the entertainment industry, to refrain from promoting gun usage to children;
  8. Discourage the graphic depiction and glorification of violence by the entertainment industry, which greatly influences our society, and recommend that these issues be addressed through education and consciousness raising;
  9. Call upon the federal and state governments to provide significant assistance to victims of gun violence and their families.
  10. Recommend that our annual conference makes visible public witness to the sin of gun violence and to the hope of community healing; and
  11. Reflecting the traditional role of the United Methodist Church has been one of safety and sanctuary, every United Methodist Church is officially declared a weapon-free zone.
I know that there is a divergent political understanding and that some disagree with these actions sought by the United Methodist Church.  However, I hope and pray that we can agree that church cannot remain silent and inactive.  For these sake of our children and our youth let us lead them in the ways that make for peace.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Grateful for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day that we remember the ministry and legacy of Dr. King I give thanks to God for his risk-taking passion for equality for all people.  The willingness to put oneself at risk for a greater good for all is what separates great people from good people.  Dr. King was great.  The suffering, persecutions and ultimate death he experienced were sacrifices that he willingly made for the cause of justice.  No great advancement in human society happens without this powerful witness.  If something is worth dying for it is vitally important.  The lives of all people have been challenged and enriched by the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement.  A great sacrifice has made a great gain for all people for all times.   His work goes on as people of like minds work for equality and advancement.  

Where do you see people being denied their rights in this world?  In the spirit of Dr. King and in honor of Dr. King, be willing to risk your personal security and resources to make changes happen.