Please be kind
It is customary in the Episcopal Church to change the blessing to one of penitence each Sunday during Lent. But, I decided this year to keep to my usual blessing which is: "My friends, life is short and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So make haste to love and be swift to be kind." It is the last words in this blessing which has always struck me as the most important-be kind. Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
I kept this blessing for the simple reason we need more kindness in our world. Without going all political we need to be more generous with one another. Generous in the sense that I may not agree with what someone has to say, but I have to try to understand why he feels as he does. It is when we are unable to show generosity in spirit and love we do not show to one another the love of Christ.
When I reflect on my own conduct, there have been times when I have been less than generous with my fellow travelers. I hope that age and my growing in faith keeps me from reacting to unkind comments and treatment of one another in our world. We often think the way we do because of past experiences, how we grew up or what we have read and heard; it may seem irrational to some but for others it is "their" truth. We do not have to understand it or agree with it; in fact there are times when we are compelled as Christians to speak out against hate and prejudice. What I do is I pray their fear and hate will evolve into love and compassion for all. Jesus tells us to pray for everyone, not just the people we like or agree with.
My mode of being is not to try to change someone's mind through words, but rather to model the love of Christ. This love is not a tepid or wishy washy way of thinking. After all Jesus was neither of these, reading the gospel accounts, he showed quiet strength, loved everyone especially when they were unlovable and gave his life for us. Yes, Jesus was angry at times speaking truth to power but he did it with dignity, integrity loving us all to the end. May we do so with our fellow travelers.
Lenten thoughts halfway through the season
When I preside at the Holy Eucharist during the season of Lent, one of the prefaces for the service states, “ You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast.” The feast we share at the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Asking for the forgiveness of another is one way I can cleanse my heart and make room for Jesus in my life. When I seek and ask for forgiveness I am freeing up space in my heart and mind for all the good things God has in store for me. When I remain caught up in nursing old grudges and hurts as well as dwelling on the ways I have hurt others, God is crowded out and I am not living the life He has set out for me. Mired in the pain of the past, I can not live in the present or prepare for the future. Lent reminds us we are to shed those things which keep us from having a full rich life; the life God has intended for each and everyone of us.
A new discussion group began Tuesdays and our first book was "The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Their Favorite Bible Passages" the conversation has been lively. What was brought to the group was a vast array of thoughts and questions regarding the reading for the week. The story I found interesting was "The Womb and the Cistern Well" the story of John the Baptist imprisoned by Herod. What we all discussed was how John must have felt knowing that he was in all likelihood going to die. That he had his doubts about who Jesus was and asks that famous question: "Are you the one or are we to wait for another?" We all agreed being John was not easy. He had worked and toiled in the community to bring people to God only to have his power given to another. Was is given willingly? The writers of the gospels would us believe yes but human nature would have to say otherwise.
I think about this in terms of our own needs to be recognized and wanted. It is not easy to give up control and power for someone else. We all think we are irreplaceable and John's story tells us we are anything but.