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8-12-20 A Message from the Reverend Chuck Alley


A Message from the Reverend Chuck Alley
Rev. Chuck Alley
What are we to do? As we evaluate the various possible options for responding to pain and suffering, we are aided by the understanding that (a) human suffering is universal, and that (b) every human being is loved by God. Those are two of the three foundational concepts for Anglican medical ethics that were addressed in the last two weeks. The third concept is that of community. As the poet, John Donne wrote:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less...
...Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind...
In short, we human beings are all in this together. For most of history, the common understanding of human existence was that we were made to live in community. Certainly, the biblical record is one of God dealing with his people. As a result, our response to the world is to be a corporate response, in community, as a community. That means that no one is to be left to suffer alone. Jesus said that we are to love our neighbors (Luke 10:27). When his hearers asked him to define neighbors, Jesus replied that everyone is our neighbor (Luke 10:29-37). If God is willing to adopt all of us, as well as die for us so that we might be adopted, then who are we to withhold our love and care from those who are potentially our eternal siblings? If we have one adopted Father, and together we are his heirs, then we are family-the tightest of communities.
Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, as the human family, we are only as healthy as our sickest member. Like it or not, we are "involved in mankind" through the web of human relationships in which we live. Since we are a community, our response to the suffering we encounter in the world should be a corporate response. By our relationships to God and to one another, we are to reach out to those who are suffering and in pain and offer them a relationship-a treatment rather than a band aid. That is the divine way of the Incarnation. Let's not dehumanize our neighbors by making them a cause. Rather, let's go to those who are suffering and be with them-one sufferer at a time.

8-5-20 A Message from the Reverend Chuck Alley
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