From the pastor

    A TRIBUTE OF MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA AND DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES

         by Dr. Floyd McPhee
         delivered the Sunday following their deaths (September 1997)

          The world has been grieving two major losses this week. Society has lost a great Christian role model in the death of Mother Teresa. For over 50 years she served the poorest of the poor in the streets of Calcutta. She was as Malcolm Muggeridge once said "a living embodiment of Christ's gospel of love".

          Our world is also mourning the lost of a very special citizen, in the person of Diana, Princess of Wales. She will be remembered for many reasons, but in particular for using her position and fame for the betterment of society. And that is a remarkable achievement. Many thousands of people have been and will continue to be helped by her charity work. Her tragic death, leaves us as a society with much to ponder.

          The first lesson we might learn is that life is unpredictable, and brief, regardless of how many years we are given. Surely then, we must handle this fragile and precious gift of life with the upmost care, making certain, that our Creator and Giver of the gift is recognized and honoured through his gift.

          Secondly, we have been forcefully reminded, of the darker side of human nature. Underlying and much to blame for the tragic accident in which Diana was killed, is man's inability to control his desire for happiness. He will do almost anything in his power to achieve fulfilment. Alcohol abuse has long been an attempt to drown out problems of life, with the end result of making our problems worse. Greed has plagued humankind from the beginning. Whether it be for high corporate profits, a desire to be wealthier and more famous, or for whatever reason, it has infiltrated society like an infectious disease. That dark side of humans which reared its ugly head in the accident that killed Diana, is all too familiar to each of us. It also was part of Diana's life The only hope of our doing battle with the darkness within us, is the mercy and grace of God shown most clearly when God acted discisively in the death of Jesus on the Cross. There he dealt a death blow to the darkness within us, by connecting us to Himself through Christ. No longer then does the darkness need to rule over us and in us, but the light of God's love and grace and power breaks through the darkness and makes us free. Once we are connected to God, a whole new world enables us to live victoriously.

          To the person in Christ the Apostle Paul writes these words in Philippians, chapter 4 beginning at verse 4: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from or seen in me -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

          That is what it means to live in the light, and not in darkness, which controls much of our modern day thinking and action.

          If the tragic death of Diana will help us to come to the end of ourselves, and to leap into the forgiveness and grace of our Redeemer and to live in His light, her death will not be in vain.