Hymn- Jesus Loves Me
If you would prefer to hear Hannah’s sermon on the radio, tune into WALH radio today at 10 am or 3 pm for the Quaker Hour.
If you feel led to continue contributing financially to Ada Chapel during this time that we are not meeting, please mail offerings to our treasurer at 2418 Wilson Rd. Wilmington, OH 45177.
If anyone would like to share their thoughts about when/how Ada Chapel should reopen, call or text Hannah at 937-503-4709 to share your opinion! We are eager to reopen and to see everyone, but we want to do it safely and correctly.
Wilmington Yearly Meeting has decided not to hold this summer’s yearly meeting sessions in person, but to hold them via Zoom. Yearly meeting sessions are July 23-26, 2020. As we receive more information about the schedule, we will announce it.
Our country. All those who are in harm’s way. Ross and Violeta. All of those who are sick, or who have loved ones who are sick. Healthcare workers, grocery store workers, and other essential workers. Our neighborhood and our community. The family and friends of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Wilmington Yearly Meeting. Our leaders in all levels of government. People in the recovery community. Parents, children, the elderly, and others who are isolated. Everyone who is feeling discouraged. All of those who have lost jobs, or who are struggling financially during this time. The young people of WYM who won’t get to go to camp this summer. Those who are grieving.
Hymn- Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Meditative Moment (Followed by silent worship)
Wilmington Yearly Meeting Revised Queries #3:
Do I thoughtfully consider the differing viewpoints of others as an opportunity for deeper understanding within the Christian fellowship?
Luke 10:25-37: Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Last week, I mentioned that at Ada Chapel, we are going to be spending the summer talking about spiritual gifts. My hope in diving into this topic is that if you aren’t sure what types of spiritual gifts you might have or how you are called to use them, that you might be empowered or inspired to do some spiritual exploration and some discernment work this summer. I also hope—that for the people who know what their spiritual gifts are and how they have been called to use them—that this series might open your eyes to some spiritual gifts that you may have that you may not have recognized before, or that it will help you to identify spiritual gifts in others so that you can encourage them to use them as they follow Jesus. The spiritual gift that we will be discussing today—as a kick-off to the meat of the series—is compassion.
Paul identifies compassion—or possibly mercy, depending on which translation of the Bible you use—as a spiritual gift in Romans 12:6-8. Those verses say: We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. This verse reads kind of weird without the full context of the chapter to back it up, but basically, what Paul is saying here that if your spiritual gift is compassion, then own that gift, and be compassionate to others in a cheerful way. Paul is reminding readers that no spiritual gift is too small, that all spiritual gifts are important, and that they all play a part in the bigger picture. Even something like compassion, that can easily get overlooked in a world where we tend to look to the people with their mouths at the microphone rather than the folks who are doing small things daily for the advancement of the Kingdom.
Just a quick note before we move on about Bible translation—and how some Bibles will use compassion in the Romans passage, and how some will use mercy. In the English language, compassion and mercy are slightly different words. The word compassion evokes thoughts of understanding and of empathy, while mercy—to speakers of American English—tends to signal benevolence. But the Greek word that Paul used in this passage, eleeó, means both at the same time. As a speaker of American English, this threw me for a bit of a loop at first. By our definition, compassion requires love, but mercy—by our definition—does not. It didn’t make sense to me that these words could be interchangeable. But the more that I researched and read, I began to realize that perhaps it’s not Paul who used the wrong word—perhaps it’s we who have the wrong definition of mercy. I’m not sure if mercy is truly mercy if love is not the driving force behind it. Without love, mercy just dehumanizes people and strips them away of their dignity and worth. So, all of that is to say, don’t be alarmed if your Bible uses the word mercy while mine uses the word compassion. The words are different, but the meaning—based on how Paul wrote it in the original Greek—is the same.
So anyway, Friends, what a week to talk about compassion. When I started outlining this sermon series and assigning spiritual gifts to certain weeks back in April, I had no idea just how much lament and anger we would be experiencing this week. The family and friends of George Floyd are sad and angry. People of color, specifically black people at this moment, are sad and angry. People who have been injured or who have experienced damage to their homes and businesses during protests are sad and angry. Law enforcement officers and the people who love them and fear for their safety are sad and angry. The folks who are out protesting are sad and angry. The entire nation—I would venture to say—is sad and angry. When faced with such tragedy, inequality, injustice, hopelessness, violence, and fear, it’s hard not to be. There is an immense amount of pain sitting in a lot of people’s souls this week. There is pain, there is grief, and there is rawness.
But interestingly enough, the current state of affairs—as overwhelming as it is—does do us a bit of a favor in the way of thinking deeper about what the spiritual gift of compassion looks like in action. Most people are somewhat familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan, even if they are not Christians. Up until recently, there was a hospital in Dayton called Good Samaritan Hospital, named for the parable. But what a lot of folks aren’t aware of about this parable is that in the story, the Good Samaritan wasn’t just a nice guy doing a great thing for a person who was in need. The Good Samaritan was a guy who was able to choose compassion over power, and over societal and political expectations. Samaritans and Jews hated one another. And I’m not using the word “hate” in that silly way that a Bengals fan uses it when they claim to hate Steelers fans. I’m talking about the legitimate hate here. The Samaritans and the Jewish people were political and religious enemies. The Samaritans had a history of regularly causing problems in Jewish cities, especially when the Jewish people were trying to rebuild Jerusalem after the exile was over. The differences in religion between the two groups sometimes led to violence. The Samaritans—being ancestors of Jacob—believed that the Jewish people had drifted away from what their original belief system was supposed to be, and that the Jewish people were terrible human beings because they had strayed. The Jewish people—on the other hand—believed that the Samaritans had gotten in with the pagans, and they saw the Samaritans as terrible human beings because of that. The relationship between the two groups was one that was oppressive, destructive, and extremely problematic. Author and professor Amy-Jill Levine writes that a good way for Americans to understand the Jewish-Samaritan relationship is to imagine the Samaritan as a radical Muslim who has participated in terrorism. No Samaritan in his or her right mind would dream of helping a Jewish person in need on the side of the road, and no Jewish person would ever, ever expect to receive help from a Samaritan. Had the Jewish person in this parable been conscious, he might have, in fact, have taken off running the minute he saw the Samaritan. But this is how Jesus chose to tell the story. And that’s exactly what makes this story such a powerful commentary about compassion. The Good Samaritan should have left his enemy there to die. Politically, religiously, and societally speaking, that would have been the right thing to do. But instead, the Good Samaritan chose empathy and love. And the Jewish man’s life was not only saved—but he experienced an act of love that had this story been something that had happened in real life—would have changed the way that this particular Jewish man viewed Samaritans forever.
It is this willingness to see past the stories that we tell about others and to choose love instead that is involved in having compassion for another person or for another living thing, that makes compassion a spiritual gift. Compassion involves tenderness and open-mindedness. It involves the ability to listen to what other people have to say and to listen to their experiences without discounting those experiences or talking over them. To be compassionate requires that we are willing to give grace to one another, and that we have the ability to see one another as beloved Image Bearers of God who possess inherent worth. The folks who have this gift of compassion are people who are able to put themselves in another person’s shoes. They are able to put aside their opinions, or what society says in order that they might hear someone out. These folks are able to put the love of Christ first. If you are a person who is empathetic, who listens well, whose heart breaks and who wants to help when others are faced with difficult situations, who can be unselfish, who is filled with grace, and who sees others as equals and as beloved—then compassion might be a spiritual gift that you possess.
It is worth mentioning, I think, that because we are all flawed people—that people who are gifted with compassion aren’t on their game all the time. Just because you failed to offer grace to someone once, or because certain people or situations make compassion difficult for you doesn’t mean that compassion can’t possibly be one of your spiritual gifts. I think that some of us, based on our life experiences, are better able to offer compassion in some moments than in others. For example, a recovering drug addict might be able to be loving and compassionate to a person who is actively using drugs, whereas others were not able to meet that task. Not being perfect at being compassionate in every moment is not an absolute indicator that you do not have the gift.
And yet, accepting imperfection is not a message to give up. Remember that the parable of the Good Samaritan begins with the Greatest Commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Love is not optional. We are all required to love our neighbors, whether we are gifted with compassion or not. We are all called to love better. And people who are called to use their gift of compassion as a ministry are constantly being called to hone their gift and to become better at compassion. And truly, there is no better time for pursuing love and spreading compassion to our neighbors than now. In the face of racial injustice, violence, fear, division, hopelessness, and pain, compassion can make a real difference. Compassion will not fix all of the world’s problems. But it certainly can spark reconciliation and understanding, which will ultimately lead us to healing, and to the kind of Kingdom that God is building here on this earth—a Kingdom of wholeness, love, and peace.
If you know that compassion is a spiritual gift that you have, I’d like to encourage you today to—in the paraphrased words of Paul—own that. Do what you do best—open up your hearts and your ears, and bravely meet your neighbors with transforming love. Make a difference. Be the salt of the earth and the shining candle. With your actions, encourage oppressors to see the oppressed and to love them. With your actions, encourage all of us to love our neighbors better. If you struggle with compassion, or think that compassion might be a gift that you have, but you also fall flat on your face with it sometimes, then I’d like to invite you to do some practice this week. Pray that God can help you to see the sacredness and value of others. Practice listening to someone without interrupting them. And sit with what they told you for a little bit before responding. Listening simply to respond isn’t really listening. Ask God that He might give you grace for others, and also that He might help you to accept grace for yourself when you stumble. Start getting into the habit of asking people how they are doing and truly being interested in their response, helping others in appropriate ways when help is asked for, and putting love above all else. Be well, Friends. Dig deep this week. Be the compassion, and the love of Christ.
Hymn- Jesus is Love
Ada Chapel Prayer
Father, we thank thee for the night; and for the blessed morning light. For rest and food, and loving care; and all that makes the world so fair. Help us do the things we should; to be to others kind and good. In all we do, and all we say; to grow more loving every day. Amen