January 5, 2015

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

A few years ago in one of Milwaukee’s suburbs a freeway off-ramp was under construction. The authorities closed the ramp as the entire roadbed was receiving new concrete.
Someone with a new Mercedes decided the closed ramp was for other people. He drove around the barriers and plowed his car into the newly poured and deep concrete. As embarrassing as this was the guy sued for damages to his car saying the closed ramp wasn’t properly marked or blocked. Then something happened I hadn’t heard before. The government counter-sued the man for messing up the concrete job!

This story is indicative of a problem in our society. I call it spiritual poverty. You can become so consumed with things that there is a diminished sense of relationship with anything or anyone else. People no longer matter. God is hardly a thought much less the author and giver of life. There is the old saying that we are to use things and love people. Spiritual poverty twists this saying to say that we are to love things and use people.

The second of the Ten Commandments is to have no idols. On the surface this seems easy to follow. Today no one worships Baal or Astarte, but there are modern day idols. Alcohol and drugs are idols to many people . An obsession with worldly possessions can have the same effect. There is nothing wrong with alcohol, drugs, money, or possessions. They are part of God’s creation. It is our relationship with these things that matter.

The first of the Ten Commandments says, “Have no other gods but me.” The Commandment goes on to say, “I am a jealous god.” This means God loves us and demands our attention. He who created us expects a relationship with us. Relationships go two ways. God will do his part, but will we do ours? When we won’t reciprocate usually idol worship is involved. This is spiritual poverty. God in his love gives us many good things. His most precious gift is time. Use your time wisely. Take the time to walk with God. He will help you get priorities right, and you will enjoy his company. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,