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A modern parable
June 29, 2009
by Rev. Eugene M. Brown, St. Mary’s Care Center, Winsted

This is a modern parable that you may have heard before. It prompts us Christians to ask ourselves if we are living up to the vision of our Founder, or if we have lost sight of the purpose of our life.

A story is told about a lifesaving station on a rugged seacoast where shipwrecks were common. The members of the station risked their lives to go out at all hours of the day or night to rescue shipwrecked passengers, bring them to their shelter, and provide them with food and medical attention.

The station was not much more than a ramshackle dwelling, but the members did not care about that; their only concern was to assist the survivors and attend to their needs. This was the vision of the one who had founded the lifesaving station many years before.

One day, a member of the group said to the others, “Just look at this place – it’s a mess. We have money given to us by some of the people we rescued; how about if we fix it up a bit?”

This seemed like a good idea, so they set about painting, inside and out, re-shingling the roof, putting cedar and knotty-pine paneling in the common room, and laying a wall-to-wall carpet throughout. They even put a replica of a lifesaving boat over the pool table.

Everyone was pleased with how their new lifesaving station looked. Now, however, they were reluctant to bring wet and dirty survivors into their brand new facility.

Over time, there were fewer and fewer trips out to rescue those who were shipwrecked. There was still the replica of a lifesaving boat hanging over the pool table, but most of the members had forgotten what it was for. They had become a social club.

A few of the more conscientious members were deeply disturbed about what had happened, so they broke away, went up the coast, and established their own lifesaving station. It was not much more than a ramshackle dwelling, but the members did not care about that; their only concern was to assist the survivors and attend to their needs.

One day, a member of the group said to the others, “Just look at this place – it’s a mess. How about if we fix it up a bit?”

Today, there are lifesaving stations scattered up and down that rugged seacoast. Shipwrecks are still common. Most of the people drown.