“Blessed be the God and Parent of our Lord Jesus Christ, the bearer of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” —2 Corinthians 1:3-4
On Sunday, we reflected on the 3rd heartbeat of Central Union Church
– being caring and compassionate. So what is compassion? Compassion means to endure, suffer, undergo or experience something with another person. Having compassion for another person is not the same thing as agreeing with them or even approving of them. In fact, we must still – and always – speak up for and stand on the side of love, as we see it, not hate. What it means is that we must learn to “suffer with”, which is what the word “compassion” means – to suffer with the perpetrators of evil as much as we suffer for its victims. This is extremely hard to do.
Karen Armstrong, in her book, “12 Steps to a Compassionate Life”, explores the evolution of caring for one another as a product of brain development. She points out that our brains (and our hearts) have to be trained to overcome our self-protective tendencies.
I have been told, at various times, that compassion is impractical and unrealistic. However, Karen Armstrong reminds us that the sages, prophets, mystics of old and even Jesus did not regard compassion as an impractical dream. Compassion and caring are our calling. Jesus set a standard for compassionate behavior that we have chosen to follow. As Christians, as people of faith, compassion, love and caring have to be at the center of every single aspect of our lives.
As you look at our community, our city, these islands and our world, how are we doing at providing Christ’s light to all the people around us?
Are we harbingers of hope? Are we bringers of peace? Are we bearer’s of God’s love, compassion and caring?
What can we do as individuals and as a church to share compassion and caring with our world and those we encounter in our daily lives?