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Responsibility and Faithfulness

Responsibility and Faithfulness

We all know the story of the five maidens who took oil lamps and extra oil, in case the bridegroom was late. The other five maidens who took their lamps with only what little bit of oil they had in them; they took no extra oil with them. Now anyone who has had any part in planning for a wedding knows you have to plan for the unexpected…..This story is chock full of symbolism. The bridesmaids represent the church. In the church only some are really prepared. In the membership of the church there are saints who are prepared and some saints who are saints in name only. The oil represents one’s spiritual preparations. It sounds a warning that each of us must make provisions for his or her own spiritual well being and destiny. I cannot give you any of my spiritual oil and you cannot give me any of yours. Each of us must individually take responsibility for our own life.

Joshua led the people of Israel one thousand years before Christ. To that complete faithfulness he reminded the Israelites that we own our allegiance to the God who has brought us to where we are today. That includes putting away the many other gods that would distract us from following the one and only true God. Life is always confronting us with choices. Allegiance to God or allegiance to materialism; support of war or making peace; being spiritually minded or secularly minded. One of the problems of our world is too many people have not taken responsibility for their lives. Too many have banked on the spiritual reserves of parents or grandparents. Unfortunately righteousness cannot be passed down like genetic traits. All of us must take responsibility of our own lives and spiritual destinies.

Most of our faithful servants who attend and work hard for our church, here in Steubenville are worried about the future of our church. They have every right to be…….there are many empty seats. The offering plates aren’t as full as many years ago. The money does not go as far as it used to. I have to applaud the work that the dedicated people do here at Zion UCC Church. They keep on working, worshiping, and investing in their spiritual future. I have been here two years, at the end of May. But I have been in the same church on a different street, in a different town. It is the same everywhere except for a few churches in each town that are growing by leaps and bounds. Church is not the building. It is the PEOPLE. I don’t know why you left; I don’t know why your live has gotten so busy that the only thing you don’t have time for is GOD. Your answers really don’t matter to me. They matter to GOD and they matter to your future. They matter to the future of this church and the people in it. None of us want to come to the end of our days and as with the five foolish bridesmaids hear the Lord say, ”Truely I tell you, I do not know you.”

I want to leave you with this story: Carol Noren writes - A few years ago a dear friend of mine died, leaving me a large share of his estate and making me executor of his will. After the funeral I stood in his home and tried to decide which of his possessions to have shipped to my house in Chicago and which things I could fit in my suitcase. Because I had visited this friend many times nearly all of the objects around me were familiar. Many were beautiful and most had pleasant associations. I found myself wishing I could take far more than was practical, given the size of my house and the cost of shipping. I realized that what I wanted more than the inheritance was my friend himself. I was trying to hold on to him through the earthly goods he had left to me.

The most precious thing we receive from God in Christ is not eternal life, as wonderful as that is, our inheritance is beyond price because we receive Jesus himself, crucified, risen and alive. The relationship with him, unbroken and unending, is an inheritance we can share with others without having any less of him for ourselves……


Yours in Christ,

Rev. Walter Coy


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