Saturday, September 18, 2010

Everybody needs a hero

I’m a sucker for an honest, great story. We have lots of stories of bad guys. Today we need a story of a great guy.
This weekend honors one of Canada’s greatest heroes.
No, he’s not a professional athlete. Or an actor or musician. He’s not a politician or businessman.
No, he’s a guy who died before he turned 23. But in his life and in his death he exhibited qualities that make him a legitimate world-class hero.

He is Terry Fox.
He lost his right leg to cancer before the age of 20. And then decided he was going to run across the country to raise money and awareness for cancer research. And not just a couple miles a day. He set out to run a marathon (42.195 kilometers, over 26 miles) every day.

Since he grew up in British Columbia (my side of the country), he decided to start on the other side, and run towards home. His goal was to raise $1 for every Canadian (at that time, 24,000,000). He dipped his right leg into the water off Newfoundland on April 12, 1980 and set out.

Of course it wasn’t easy.
Of course there was pain.
Early mornings.
Dodging traffic.

But there were the good times.
He got to meet some of his heroes.
To meet others who were struggling with cancer.
To receive the nickels and dimes and dollars of generous people.
To discover that he was winning the heart of the nation.
But the cancer came back and halted his run at 5373 km (3339 mi) at Thunder Bay, Ontario. Although he wanted to come back and complete the run, he passed away June 28, 1981—1 month before his 23rd birthday.

By this point his Marathon of Hope had indeed raised over $24,000,000.
But that isn’t the end of the story.
He had lit the fire under Canadians. By September of 1981, plans came together for a country-wide Terry Fox Run in communities large and small to continue to raise money.
So, every September on the 2nd Sunday after Labor Day the Terry Fox Run is held, now in dozens of countries. Over $500 million has been raised in Terry’s honor.

Sure, it’s easy to complain about the sorry state of the world.
But this weekend we remember Terry.
He makes me proud to be a Canadian.
I’m proud to be part of a country that gave rise to a man like Terry.

Now go and make a difference in your world.

(click to enlarge)

This plaque is located where Terry would have completed his Marathon of Hope, had he been able to make it here to Victoria.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What does loving your neighbor really mean?

I followed my friend the weary pilgrim to a blog called Hugh’s Views.

Here are Hugh’s notes from a presentation he made at Big Tent Christianity. To whet your appetite, here are a few excerpts, but you definitely need to read the whole thing for the full benefit.

According to Jesus, loving your neighbor is half of the greatest commandment. Pretty much everyone agrees that, if taken seriously, it’s a radical idea that could change the world. And yet it seems nearly impossible for American Christians, liberal or conservative, to agree on what it looks like.

Loving your neighbor presupposes a relationship. It means knowing your neighbor is going through a divorce, that the lady who cleans your office has a mother that is dying, that the man at the end of the street holding a cardboard sign has been outside for three years now, and his name is Brian. In the story we call the Good Samaritan, it meant getting in the ditch to bind the man’s wounds yourself.

When the average person in the pews can tell you the names of all the Judges on American Idol, or can name all the Glee cast members, but does not know a soul that makes 1/4th their income, I think it is fair to say we have lost our sense of mission as co-creators of the Kingdom of God.

Here in Wake County, the official statistics say there are approximately 1200 homeless people. And many hundreds of Christian congregations. You cannot tell me that out of the many thousands of Christian homes represented by those churches, there are not 1200 empty beds somewhere. Of course there are. But we save those beds for people we actually know.

Jesus expects us to storm down those gates [Matthew 16:18] and invade Hell itself. Jesus is telling us to go to Hell to be with the drug addict and the alcoholic. Go to Hell to be with the victims of abuse, and with the abusers. Go to hell and liberate the adulterer, the homeless man, the pornographer. In hell is where we will find the single mother and the embezzler, the pimps and the pimped, the hungry, the broken, the forgotten. We, you and I together, should be wading into hell itself and proclaiming that there is a new way to live and a new way to love, and that new way is bringing about the justice of God.

Read his full notes here. Thanks to the weary pilgrim, and especially to Hugh for a pretty straight-forward understanding of a pretty obvious principle—that most of us totally ignore.

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