Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100 or Psalm 95:1-7a
Peace be with you!
An old African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As Christians, we baptize our children and profess as a congregation that we will be witnesses of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness to each other’s children. The community is responsible for sharing the good news with all the children.
But does it stop there with the children? Is the community only responsible for the children, or is there more to it?
Most of my friends from college have Cerebral Palsy, like me, though it affects all of us differently. And boy, were we a crew when we all got together to go out! Since we all had various physical abilities, each of us needed help in different ways. It was common for three of us to make Wal-Mart runs together. I am the one who could reach the items on the shelf and put it in our cart. If I could not reach something, my one friend would go find someone to get help reach the item since her speech was not affected by the Cerebral Palsy. Our other friend is the responsible one who always brought the list and would point to things that we were forgetting. Then I would have to separate our items and check us out separately. Like I said, we were quiet a crew.
There were five of us who got together and did dinner almost every Friday. Two of my fellow Cerebral Palsy sisters could feed the three of us who could not eat independently. Thankfully there was usually one, maybe two, personal caregivers to help out, but that is not to say we did not try to do it all ourselves.
We would say we could be completely independent when we worked together. We are a community where each individual needs help and each individual could help the others out. And if asked why we help each other, the answer would be out of love.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus says, whenever you give someone who is in need food, clothes, shelter, etc, you are helping Jesus (Matthew 25:40). Since we are God’s children, we are called to help each other by taking care of individuals who are need.
As Christians, Jesus calls us to help each other out of love for one another and for God. This does not mean we should like we need to do works to enter heaven; however, we should do good works, such as feeding the hungry and providing homeless with shelter, out of compassion, which is found in love of Jesus Christ.
We often think our works have to large and grand, like working at a food pantry or a homeless shelter. Some individuals feel it is too much hassle to help others. They are always in a rush to get wherever they going. My Cerebral Palsy sisters and I saw this in college with our personal caregivers – some girls would rush through our cares and leave right away. God has no use for these individuals, because they only care about themselves. It is a harsh reality, which Jesus speaks and we all hope we are not in this group.
However, sometimes the smallest actions, like giving a hug to a friend or a hand to a stranger who is having bad day, can make a big impact on the other person. It is random acts of kindness that can turn an individual’s day around.
A few months ago I was flying home from Washington DC where I attended a conference for IMAlive.org, a non-profit committed to help individuals who fight thoughts of suicide. The non-profit has volunteers online who chat with individuals battling depression and thoughts of suicide. The conference was three days of training sessions where I began my discernment to become a volunteer.
While I was waiting for my flight, I sat at a table eating my Aunt Annie pretzel and drink a Coke. Two soldiers are enjoying a drink at the bar near by, but the bar gets crowded and the two soldiers asked to sit at my table, and I gladly said yes, although there were plenty of empty tables. Another female soldier came and went to get coffee with the male soldier.
The female soldier who stayed at the table with me and her beer introduced herself and asked me what brought me DC. I told her about the conference, what I learned about vets, and the website. She was the leader of her team and worried about her younger teammates. I asked her if she stressed the importance of taking of one’s mental health, and she said yes, she fights the stigmatism of asking for help with both of her female and male teammates. I gave her my business card to email me for more information on IMAlive.org.
Then she opened to me by explaining how she personally knew someone in the recent helicopter crash, which still brought tears to her eyes. She fought to get her composure back before her two teammates came back. I simply held her hand for literally a few seconds and said I would pray for her, which she appreciated.
Although it was a brief encounter, I can say both the female soldier and me had a connection, which made a slight difference in our lives. I saw first hand how much work IMAlive.org has to do; the female soldier learned about a new non-profit organization working to help vets who suffer from PSD. It is the small moments that speak volumes to an individual in need.
These are the small moments, the random acts of kindness that Jesus calls us to encounter. You cannot plan or write a script for these moments – they just happen. God just puts us in these moments to help him in his mission. When we accept his callings, we make God proud, and he extends an invitation to us to enter heaven. And boy, I cannot wait to go to heaven, although I am sure God has a lot more for me to do.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the invitation to enter heaven. Help us to do your work through small moments and random acts of kindness according to your love, grace, and forgiveness. Thank you for giving us the chance to spread your love, grace, and forgiveness. Amen.
Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
For more information on suicide prevention, go to IMAlive.org and HopeLine.com.
Please feel free to answer the reflective questions through comments. Please agree to disagree and be respectable to each other. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to sign the covenant. You can answer all or just one of the questions.
1. Please tell us about a small moment or random act of kindness you experience.
2. How do you express God’s love to others?