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January 5, 2016, 1:38 PM

Our Best Days - Rick Hardy's address to the congregation

The ultimate measure of humanity is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where we stand at times of challenge and controversy!

It's safe to say...we are at a time of challenge and controversy, and that is why I am speaking to you today. With all of the crazy things going on in the world, you might be wondering what is happening.

I cannot attest to what is actually causing people to murder innocent individuals in senseless mass killings, but I do believe that we have the civic and spiritual responsibility to do our best to make a positive difference in our world.

As Children of God, we must treat everyone with dignity and respect, and we might consider going the extra mile and do what Jesus asks us to our enemies! I don't want to get into a literal interpretation of this request, but I would like to address the underlying premise...if Jesus asks us to love our enemies, shouldn't we at least give individuals the benefit of the doubt before judging them?

I am requesting that we do our best not to lump everyone into one classification based upon the acts of a few misguided individuals.

We don't blame every Christian when a few troubled people perform heinous acts, just as we should not lump every Muslim into the category of Islamic Extremists.

We will never "win" a war against terrorism without discovering and doing away with the causes related to the mistrust and hate directed toward individuals of differing beliefs.

I feel that Jesus wants to bring sheep into the fold...not build fences to keep them out. I don't remember Jesus ever directing his followers to kill in the name of religion, and so it is up to us to follow Jesus' lead. We must be the illuminating light on the hill. We must be the example that people want to emulate.

I've said all of this to simply ask you to do as Jesus would do. If we are to ever make a difference in the world, now is the time to begin.

There is one and only one creator, and I believe that we all come from that same creator!

Now is the time for communication, compassion, and understanding between all faiths to the point where we agree that differences in our beliefs do not negate the more positive notion that we all come from the same Supreme Being.

Instead of lumping people into one oversimplified category, why don't we realize that if we follow Jesus' lead and reach out to those of different faiths with love and compassion, maybe we can make a positive difference in our troubled world.

We already know our positive outcome at the end of our earthly existence, so we have no worries. Why don't we begin today by doing what Jesus wants us to our enemies, and we can start by at least loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Our best days are still ahead!

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