I went to church on Sunday and I'm glad I did because the Bishop was preaching and he did a great job. His sermon was about the Parable of the Talents. For those of you who aren't familiar with the parable, it goes something like this. (I may not have it EXACTLY right but this is the gist) The Master decides to give one servant 7 talents, one servant 2 talents and one servant one talent. He tells them to use the talents wisely while he is gone. When the master returns, the first servant has invested the talents wisely and now has fourteen talents. The second servant also did well and now has four talents. But the third slave buried his talent. He told the master that he knew what a hard and difficult man the master was and he was afraid so he buried the talent. Because of his lack of faith, the third servant was thrown out and cast into darkness.
The bishop pointed out that there is a profound difference in acting out of faith and acting out of fear. If we act out of fear, worrying about retribution or going to "hell" then we are not people of faith. He said that we all need to approach each other with a "hospitality of heart." I really liked that idea. I feel that I don't always treat others with a "hospitality of heart." It is certainly easier for me to do so away from my job. But it's something I need to try and remember in my everyday life.
I have never really believed in the concept of "hell." I only believe in the absence of God. I think the Bishop described it best. He said that the third servant was experiencing a kind of hell being cast into darkness away from the light. It's like standing outside a house where this terrifice party is going on. You see the people laughing and hear the music but you have to stay outside alone. I think that would be my kind of "hell." Knowing what it feels like to be part of God's party but then having to be out alone in the darkness.