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  • Reverend James Squire

Born Again

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why."

When I think about someone who was born again, I think of Malcolm Gosling. Malcolm was my sidesman, lay assistant, when I was priest in charge of St. Paul’s, Paget, Bermuda. He was everything that some people would want to be. He owned Goslings Liquor Stores, the largest alcoholic beverage vendor on the island. He lived on a palatial estate, was handsome, and regarded highly by all on the island. But what he wanted to talk about to anyone who would listen was how he was saved at a Billy Graham Crusade at Yankee Stadium. That was all that mattered to him. It gave me pause since my family and I were living in a home on the island with a large flower garden then worth 21 million dollars at the time. We had an honorary membership to the Coral Beach Club, and I had use of a car which were few and far between then on the island. All of this were perks for being the priest in charge of St. Paul’s. Some would say that I had it made. Fortunately, I had already engaged the “why I was born” on my most important birthday.

I am reminded of a recent quotation of Jim Carey that “everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see it is not the answer.” As I sat in the garden of the estate, that is what I came to learn anew. When you go from nothing in material wealth to something, it can be like whiplash. Wanting more is the great spiritual head-fake.

As a priest I have had the privilege of being with many people at the moment of their death. In that moment there is the realization that what endures is the spirit, not anything that relates to our acquisition of things, or the world around us that we reach out to grasp for safety and relief. It is the spirit that is the “more”.

What about the poor? They are nothing by the world’s standards. Yet in their nothingness they are closer to the reality of the Kingdom of God than anyone. "Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom of God." (Matthew 5:3) When your back is against the hardship wall, it is possible for you to experience the gift of knowing the truth without the baggage of things. Did he not know his "why" birthday"? Could this be what the wealthy man needed to know before he could enter the Kingdom of God? (Matthew 19:24) His focus was still on his stuff. He was reluctant to enter the Kingdom, keeping his faith in his things that would ultimately disappear.

There is another way of looking at Mark Twain’s quotation. When we find out why we were born, for some it takes a daily reminder while for others it does not. The important thing is to know the why before you chase having too much. This does not mean that we give thanks for poverty. It does mean that we strive to change it knowing that there must be justice for all that even God would not stand before a starving person except in the form of food. That too is the “more” that will connect us to the spirit of the living God in death and in life. We are called to nothing less.

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