Lenten Lesson: Learning from Ferris Bueller

Friday, February 29, 2008
Michael Pochop plays the bongo drums while singing Chris Tomlin's song, "The Wonderful Cross" while the Rev. Dr. Jeff Thurman accompanies him on the guitar. Not pictured is Evie Caldwell who lent her talent on the piano to the performance. Caldwell also served as the organist during the weekly Community Lenten service Friday at Memorial United Methodist Church, selecting "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" for the introit. The words to that hymn are incorporated in Tomlin's song.

Ferris Bueller paid an unexpected call Friday afternoon to Memorial United Meth-odist Church Friday afternoon for the Community Lenten service.

The Rev. Gary Brethour, pastor at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, recalled a scene from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" that showed the principal at Bueller's school ringing the doorbell at the Bueller home, only to hear Bueller's raspy, coughing explanation that he was "simply too sick to even come to the door." Of course, the recording was a ruse, Bueller was simply playing hooky and had implemented several elaborate cover stories to escape detection.

As an educator, Brethour lamented, "If only students would put that kind of effort into their classroom work, instead of using it to find a way to get out of the work."

Nevertheless, he did admire Bueller's ingenuity, and the ingenuity of his own religion class students, especially in finding ways to pass notes.

"I admit, they got a couple by me for a time," Brethour said ruefully. "The hollowed out ink pen was particularly effective."

Brethour's comments were in response to the clever way the dishonest steward sought to minimize his losses when his master discovered his treacherous ways and fired him, as recorded in the Parable of the Dishonest Steward" in Luke 16:1-15.

Making it plain at the outset that the Lord is not advocating cheating, although the dishonest steward does receive recognition for his cleverness, Brethour focused on discerning the value of the things of the world in comparison to the value of the human soul.

"If only we, as Christians, were as concerned about the condition of our souls as we seem to be about the things of the world," Brethour said.

We put a lot of effort into a lot of worthwhile things, he said. We are concerned about health and fitness, which is fine and shouldn't be neglected. However, he pointed out, if we gain 80 or 90 years here, what is that to 80 or 90 billion years in eternity?

"The value of the soul is infinitely more important than the life in this body," he said. "It is the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be treated with infinite care."

Recalling an episode from the Bonanza TV series in the '60s, Brethour detailed how carefully a character cooked up a batch of nitroglycerin in one memorable episode.

"Beads of sweat formed on the man's forehead as he handled every aspect of the job at hand with great care. The consequences of any carelessness would have been disastrous," said Brethour. "If we could only apply that kind of care to the nurture of our souls," he continued. To fail to do so could prove equally disastrous.

There are 168 hours in a week, explained Brethour. Ninety-six of those hours are expended either sleeping or at our 40-hour jobs, leaving 72 hours for the other pursuits available in the world.

Do we spare even an hour a day to the nurture of our souls in study, in prayer, in worship? he wondered.

Brethour challenged the 132 in attendance to be on guard against earthly goods and pursuits taking up all of the time allotted to this lifetime, to remember the infinite value of a soul filled with God's grace and to be grateful to God for all he has given in this life.

"Give him thanks and praise every day," Brethour said, "make that part of the nurture of your soul.

The Rev. Emmanuel Reinbold, pastor at McCook Church of the Nazarene served as the worship leader. The Rev. Dr. Jeff Thurman, pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church and Evie Caldwell, accompanied parishioner Michael Pochop as he sang "The Wonderful Cross."

The women from St. Patrick's Catholic Church prepared a casserole luncheon complete with a wide variety of fruit and cream pies.

Free will offerings are accepted at the entrances to the sanctuary to support the work of the Red Willow County Ministerial Association. They are also accepted in the Fellowship Hall to help offset the cost of the food.

The Community Lenten services continue Friday, 12:05 p.m., at Memorial United Methodist Church with the Rev. Steve Bales, pastor at First Congregational Church offering the homily on prayer.

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