You can live without deep relationships. People do it all the time. But you can’t flourish. We need love to thrive. Not just as recipients, but as participants. To be part of a ‘beloved community.’ Love is a choice. Putting on patience, kindness – that takes courage. Being compassionate, humble, open-hearted – that’s a risk. Nobody understood that better than Jesus. Nobody. And he invites us to choose that love, too.
What if we made that kind of commitment ourselves? To take care of the earth, of creation. To take responsibility for it. To understand that in God’s eyes, our identity is to be stewards, not consumers. I don’t have any illusions that using my air conditioning less is going to stop Climate Change, or that my reusing bags is going to prevent the Great Garbage Patch in the ocean from killing whales, or taking my own to-go container with me to restaurants for leftovers is going to from keeping plastic out of the food supply. I confess to you that the scientist in me can get very grim, when I think about record-breaking Arctic temperatures, year after year after year, or century-floods that come every decade now. But what I know is that the place to begin is not fear. It is gratitude.
When it comes to faith, a lot of us don’t talk about it much. It's a lot easier to share about our children or grandchildren, our hobbies, our work, even our political opinions, than it is about those deep God-moments that touch us to the core. Our souls are shy about those things. Maybe we’re just vulnerable. So I thought it might be helpful to hear some other people’s stories. That it might be helpful if they could lead you in worship by telling their own experiences of God. That maybe – just maybe – it might inspire you to remember, and tell, those stories, too.
What if “helping” wasn’t just about meeting other people’s needs – as lofty and beautiful as that is? What if those connections were Christ’s way of meeting us, getting under our skin, getting inside us?
What if it’s true – that Christ is already here… in every act of compassion… in every connection we make? In the stranger, in family, in friend? Even – can I say it? - in ourselves?