What would they learn?

When visitors come to a worship service in my own religious tradition, a great deal depends on how warmly they are welcomed and whether they feel included or excluded by what they hear during the whole time they are with us. We may have exactly one shot at communicating who we are to people who know nothing about us–or who think they already know a lot about us–but who, in either case, will remember us as the embodiment of out entire tradition, the prime exemplars of our faith.

Barbara Brown Taylor in “Holy Envy”

INSIGHTS_WelcomingStranger_cvr

I had a friend who said “you may be the best Christian someone knows.” That is a scary thought. What do the people around us learn about Christianity from how we behave. Do we live up to what we say?

It’s not fashionable

Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them. –Mother Teresa

panhandler-800x532

This is so true! Most of us would prefer to avoid the homeless or those begging on our streets. We see them as “less than” us. It’s as if we are concerned about becoming contaminated by them. We have to begin to look through Jesus’ eyes and see them as children of God just like us. Then we will be willing to talk with them.

Compassion is learned

Suffering is a journey deeper into the heart of life.  From the movie The Human Experience

 

How shallow we can be if we have had very little problems in our lives. We just float through each day wondering why other people seem to struggle so. Compassion for those suffering is hard to grasp since we have nothing to measure it against. Travail in life is not what we would choose. But the fire of its pain brings the beauty of understanding and love for those who suffer.

ellen

Compassionate God, you sent you son to suffer and in so doing chose to experience our pain, sorrow, and  grief. Help us to use what we have learned in our own trials to ease the path of others.

 

Kindness wins

Matthew 5:38-40 

[ Concerning Retaliation ] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheekturn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;
Christ calls us to not respond in anger. He tells us to offer them the opportunity to hurt us again. We are responsible to control our inclination to anger and reprisal. Kindness is always the way. Kindness disarms. It can cause the other person to rethink. If it does then that is a good outcome. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. It will change something even if it is only us.
'It threw him off when I turned the other cheek. So then I hit him.'

You are still needed

swimming

Chronic illness, whether mental or physical, is so draining. It can be a struggle to get through each day. It takes the knowledge that God’s love is with us no matter what. Even if life is difficult it is still important and you have something to share with the world. When I visited sick and shut-ins as a parish nurse they always felt they could do nothing to help anyone. I reminded them that prayers are needed and possible even though ill. There is always something we can do to help heal the world.

A little bit more!

dr seuss1

Some people have never heard of Advent. They may not be Christian or espouse any God at all but in this season there is a difference in the air. In the time building up to Christmas there is more focus on the needy and homeless. Collections are made for children, food is collected, the Salvation Army and others receive more help. We are more generous and there is a spirit of compassion abounding. It seems that advent calls for generosity and kindness.Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanakkuh or only the commercial aspects this season changes people The spirit of the holidays is around us and yes, it is something more.

Caring God, help us to carry this spirit into the new year. AMEN

A Psalm for living

Psalm 15

Lord, who may abide in your tent?
    Who may dwell on your holy hill?

Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
    and speak the truth from their heart;
who do not slander with their tongue,
    and do no evil to their friends,
    nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
    but who honor those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
who do not lend money at interest,
    and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.

saying

This is a Psalm to live by. It we follow this path we will not only show others how to live we will be fulfilled ourselves.We need little explanation to understand that this is the way Jesus calls us to live. A Psalm for living.

Loving God, help us to follow you path and live in your ways. AMEN

The road less traveled

the-christian-ideal-has-not-been-tried-and-found-wanting-it-has-been-found-difficult-and-left-untried-7

The road that Christ followed is not an easy one. The disciples thought they could when asking him to sit at his right and left hand. They later found it was not easy. To choose this path is scary and difficult but it is the right one.

All knowing God, you sent your son to show us what to do. Help us to tread that difficult path. AMEN

Brighten the day

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts..……Henry David Thoreau

We may be the person who makes or breaks someone’s day. Just a little kindness spread around can make a world of difference. A kind word, a smile, a hello may boost someone out of a bad day. We can make other’s days brighter. Try it!

Brighten-your-day-yorkshire_rose-15956078-290-338

Loving God, help us to see those around us and to reach out in kindness. It may be the only bright thing in their day.