Dear Hyde Park Family,
An episode of the classic television series The Honeymooners featured this exchange between the iconic Ralph Kramden and his buddy Ed Norton:
Ralph: When she put two potatoes on the table, one big one and one small one, you immediately took the big one without asking me what I wanted.
Norton: What would you have done?
Ralph: I would have taken the small one, of course.
Norton: You would?
Ralph: Yes, I would.
Norton: So, what are you complaining about? You got the small one!
This dialogue offers further proof of how hard it is to practice the Golden Rule, the last stop in our worship series “New Takes on Old Favorites.” Jesus spoke this well-known maxim in Matthew 7:12: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you, for this is the law and the prophets.”
The Bible doesn’t use the phrase “Golden Rule,” and its exact origins are uncertain. (One theory is that the third-century Roman emperor Alexander Severus liked the phrase so much he adopted it as his motto, displayed it on public buildings, and wrote it in gold on his palace wall.)
Regardless of the Golden Rule’s origins, it is much easier to say it than it is to actually put into practice. Loving our enemies, forgiving those who hurt us, and exercising compassion for everyone is not easy. It can be so difficult that it prompted Eusebius of Caesarea, a fourth-century bishop, to offer this exposition on the Golden Rule. I invite you to read his prayer in preparation for this Sunday, and look for ways that the Spirit might lead you to new understanding and new ways to love others.
A Prayer to Practice the Golden Rule
By Eusebius of Caesarea, fourth-century bishop
May I be an enemy to no one and the friend of what abides eternally.
May I never quarrel with those nearest me, and be reconciled quickly if I should.
May I never plot evil against others, and if anyone plot evil against me,
may I escape unharmed and without the need to hurt anyone else.
May I love, seek and attain only what is good.
May I desire happiness for all and harbor envy for none.
May I never find joy in the misfortune of one who has wronged me.
May I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make reparation.
May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent.
May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other.
May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary help to my friends and to all who are in need.
May I never fail a friend in trouble.
May I be able to soften the pain of the grief stricken and give them comforting words.
May I respect myself.
May I always maintain control of my emotions.
May I habituate myself to be gentle, and never be angry with others because of circumstances.
May I never discuss the wicked or what they have done, but know good people and follow in their footsteps. Amen.
Great words. Tough words. And easier said than done!
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist