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An Empty House

One of the Gospel lessons for Lent reads:
When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes
through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he
says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And
when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. Then he
goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself,
and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man
becomes worse than the first.

(St. Luke 11:24-26, RSV)

Jesus spoke about a house. This house is a human soul; a mind and a life we might say. The man who owned the house had an unwanted lodger; a demon representing sin. So the man cleaned house. He kicked the demon out.

Some might think, “Ah, this man is now a Christian. He has expelled the sin and corruption from his life.”

But is he now a Christian? Is this a picture of Christianity? We must answer, “No, it is not.”

Christianity is more than the absence of evil. It is that, of course, but it is more. Christianity is the presence of good. Christ is telling us that it is not enough to have an empty house.

All of us have heard of the Golden Rule of Christ - “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them....” (St. Matthew 7:12) But have you ever heard of the Silver Rule?

The so called Silver Rule was expressed by Confucius in his Analects. It reads, “Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you.” The Stoics and other Western philosophies had proverbs similar to this.

The two rules, the Golden and the Silver, sound much alike, but there is in fact a world of difference. Anyone can fulfill the precept of Confucius for it is entirely negative. All that is necessary is that a person do nothing. Such is not the case with Christ’s Golden Rule. To fulfill it we must do to others. Christianity is not a religion of negatives, but of positives.

In Christ’s story the man kicked the demon out and everything in the house was neat and orderly. But no one was living in the house so the demon moved back in and he brought along a few of his nasty friends. A person’s soul cannot and will not be empty.

There is only one way to keep an unwanted lodger out. That is by having good lodgers move in.

Have you ever had a song or a jingle in your mind and couldn’t get it out? The song was continually repeated in your brain. How do you get a song out of your mind? By emptying your mind? No, that’s impossible. You get rid of it by singing another song.

The best way to get rid of bad thoughts is to replace them with good thoughts. Or replace bad actions with good actions. If we try to remain neutral in thoughts or actions, to take the negative approach, the evil will come back into our minds and lives. William Barclay made this point quite well when he wrote, “...the best way to avoid evil is to do good. The loveliest garden I ever saw was so full of flowers that there was scarcely room for a weed to grow.”

Going back to Christ’s illustration, if you don’t want bad company in your house, fill the house with good company, so there will be no room for the bad to get in. If any of the bad does get in they won’t feel very comfortable and will soon leave. The house is no longer filled with their kind.

During this Lenten season remember that Christianity is not a religion of negatives, but of positives. The bad isn’t simply removed, leaving a vacuum, it is replaced by the good.

by Rev. Frank M. Levi


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Parish News
The preschool Christmas Program took place Friday morning, December 18, 1998. The parking lot and Parish Hall were full as parents and grandparents gathered to see the children act out the Christmas story and sing.

On Saturday, December 19, 1998, the Sunday School had a Christmas Party in the Parish Hall. The children also went caroling and practiced for the Christmas Program.

The Sunday School Christmas Program was presented Sunday morning, December 20, 1998. The cast, all with speaking parts, included: Anne Horn, Caroline Robertson and Parham Horn as the choir and in skits; John Horn as Joseph, Jackie Robertson as Mary, and Audra Brulc as the Star; Annamarie Sellers, the Angel, Adam & Loretta Sellers, Shepherds, and Mark Levi, the King and soloist. The Sellers were also in a family skit; the Horn children each played a special number on the piano, Caroline Robertson played the oboe.
We thank Shirley Drobnak, our pianist, Kathleen Brulc for costumes, Edwina Greco for the overhead lighting, and Patty Levi for directing and stage lighting.

On Christmas Eve we gathered in the chapel at 11 p.m. for the Candlelight Christmas Service. The service was followed by a lovely reception in the Parish Hall.

Ordination
Mr. Kenneth W. Rick was ordained to the deaconate by Bishop Royal U. Grote on December 20, 1998. The ordination was here at St. Andrews, where Ken and his wife Pat are members. The Rev. Deacon Kenneth Rick is the Vicar of The Church of St. Philip the Evangelist.
St. Philip’s is a work started by the Rev. Deacon Rick a few months ago in Schaumburg, IL., a suburb on the northwest side of Chicago. Do pray for the Ricks and St. Philip’s that the Lord will bless this ministry and bring glory to His Name.

Congratulaitons to Debbie Novak, daughter of the Rev. Robert & Mrs. (Dorothy) Novak, who recently became engaged to Robert Gilman. The wedding is planned for September 3, 1999 at St. Paul’s Bible Church in Chicago

Missionary of The Month

Domestic Missions
Please pray for Bishop and Mrs. Fincke (Ann), and their children Katie, Emily, Elizabeth, and Andrew, All Saints Reformed Episcopal Mission in Vacaville, California.

Happy Birthday!
Feb. 1 - Anna Zaleski
Feb. 3 - Adele O’Brien
Feb. 9 - Mike Acke, Sr.
Feb. 14 - Edwina Greco
Feb. 23 - Lorie Conn Stultz
Please send us or call the church office and let us know the month and day of your birth. We would like to include your birthday in the Parish Register.

The Lenten Season begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 1999. As has been our tradition, we will meet on each of the Wednesday nights of Lent. We will have dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall. A sign-up sheet will be posted in the Narthex. Following dinner we will gather in the chapel to worship our Lord. The service will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Diocesan Synod
The annual synod of the Diocese of Mid-America will take place February 19 & 20, 1999 at Immanuel Reformed Episcopal Church, Memphis, TN. Do pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this important synod.


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