I just returned from the funeral of a great lady here in Sheridan. Her name was Helen Graham. She was a woman who had lived a life of service to her fellow man and to her God.
Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with the faith column in The Sheridan Press. As of this morning I had not been inspired as to what I should write about for this week’s column. As I sat in the funeral and listened to the words and watched the people who were sitting there with me to honor this great lady who represented so much of what the Savior admonished us to do with our lives, I knew I should address the topic of service.
Jesus was asked “What is the great commandment?” His answer was simple and direct: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.” The second is like unto it : “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
So how do we love our neighbor? I believe it is through service — selfless service and example.
As I sat there I noticed a banner that said “Engage the world.” I thought “How appropriate and profound!” Engage the world in what? How would the Savior have us engage the world? I believe it would be as St. Francis suggested: “We should preach Christ always and even use words if we have to.”
I have grown to believe that through selfless service and by the example of the lives we live we not only bring ourselves closer to Christ but we reveal Christ to others. There are so many examples of this kind of life being lived not only in Sheridan but also in the world as a whole.
I think often of Nelson Mandela — the man who turned 27 years of hatred toward him into one of the greatest examples of love and forgiveness for the world to see. And Mahatma Gandhi — a man who used peace, love and nonviolence and changed forever how we view the world. And how, through his teachings and his personal influence, Martin Luther King changed this country’s view of racial intolerance forever. And Mother Teresa, who challenged us all to practice Christ-like love and selfless service to all, to reach out to the poor and helpless and to nurture all of God’s children.
The example of Christ is the greatest of all, of course. He left all of us, for all eternity, the example and light to follow. He showed each of us how valuable each and every one of us is to Him by sacrificing his life in a horrible and painful way to redeem each of us if we so choose to follow him.
To serve and love our fellow man as ourselves. I see this principal acted out every day here in Sheridan. The selfless, Christ-like love that the people of Sheridan show through their actions toward their brothers and sisters is unlike any I have witnessed anywhere else I have lived.
Of course the scriptures are replete with great examples of selfless love and courage. Men and women who picked up their staffs and followed Christ and sacrificed all they had for the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. They walked the talk. They preached Christ through their living testimonies of service, love and commitment to the commandments and admonition of Christ to “love one another as I have loved you.”
I feel so blessed to be part of the body of Christians in this great community and to see the love of Christ in action in the lives of you, the people of Sheridan.
May God richly bless each of us with the knowledge that the secret to a joy-filled life can only be had through selfless service to our God and to each other.
Jack Burke is a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.