What a difficult time it is right now. Fires are absolutely devastating parts of our country. Hurricanes do what they do to add to the destruction. I think about how many lives have been absolutely torn apart by the disasters and I know it is more than I want to think about or imagine. These major traumas capture our attention. In many ways, I am grateful for the stories of human compassion that have shared through it all. At a time when it seems that our nation, our world is growing in selfishness and anger, my soul needs to know that kindness and compassion is still a part of us.

All of this causes me to be grateful, as well, for the Core Values, which accompany the Vision of our Conference. Today I want to talk about COMPASSION. Majorie Korn writes, “Compassion is an essential skill that can be improved over time…”

In the liturgy for communion we find these words: Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to the world, until Christ comes…

You and I are supposed to be the body of Christ for the world. What a powerful thought. We are to embody the nature of the One who is love, offers grace, does not condemn, and heals.

National disasters tend to bring out the best in many people. Yet everyday there are disasters and pain that happen on a much smaller scale. The person whose family disowned them because of their gender identity; the kid who was told she was too stupid to really amount to much in life; the person who just lost a job; the choice that cost a man his marriage; that diagnosis. I imagine you could add to the list your own personal crises.

If Compassion is a Core Value, if we are to truly be for the world the body of Christ, what are some things we can do to grow in compassion? Here are my thoughts. Perhaps you have others.

  1. Address the needs of your own wounded inner child. Often times the inner child’s brokenness takes over our thought life and actions, causing us to act in ways that are defensive or fearful. This can easily lead you to not be who you truly are created to be. The pain of your inner child coms out when you least expect it. Tend to those wounds and ask God, and perhaps a professional, to help you find healing.
  2. Stop being so judgmental. This requires an intentional decision to forgive quickly. Not everyone thinks like you or will act the way you want them to act. Let it go. How many times does the Bible talk about forgiveness? It’s time we start making this a priority and chose to live it into reality.
  3. Refuse to be easily offended. People are going to say things that accidently (or not so accidently) pinch your wounded inner child. When that happens, you may want to get even, tell someone off, demand they apologize – or at last recognize they hurt your feelings. Discover your identity in Christ and find peace there.
  4. Practice kindness, expecting nothing in return. Open doors, say thank you, encourage people, do something nice for someone else.
  5. Practice presence. We live in a world of distractions. It makes it hard to truly connect with another person. Silence the phone when you are sharing a meal with someone; make eye contact; listen fully, without formulating your response before the person is finished talking; ask questions about the person’s experience rather than wanting to share your experiences.
  6. Notice the woundedness that may be present in the other. See them as a holy and sacred creation, one of God’s gifts Believe the best of the other. Be affirming and gentle.

Dear Friends, we live in a world of pain and brokenness, and God is calling us – even begging us – to live into life the prayer we pray every time we take communion together. We are, for the world, the redeemed body of Christ. Let it be seen in our growth in Compassion. Let it be seen in the way we love others, stranger and friend alike.

This week will be a week of continuing and expanding pain for so many people. How will you intentionally demonstrate compassion? And how will you grow in compassion when the pain comes at you in the words and actions of others.

Write it down – pray about it – do it.

I know we join our hearts together in prayer.
N Susan Brims Signature

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