A Helping Attitude

            I, like all of you, have been greatly disturbed and saddened by the numerous stories of violence and death that have rocked our nation over the last few weeks.  But amidst the horror and hopelessness, I couldn’t fail to notice how the scripture stories that we were dealing with in worship during July were so appropriate and helpful in how we might respond as Christians.   These stories in which Jesus emphasizes what it takes to be a good neighbor and how we might turn our own neighborhoods into glimpses of God’s Kingdom could not have been more relevant.  Whether it was the Good Samaritan stopping to offer help to the man alongside the road, or the man himself accepting that help, or the stories about how to be hospitable to all of our neighbors, Jesus’ words to us offer a prescription of how to bring all people closer to each other.   They also emphasize the necessity of attitudes like empathy, compassion, and concern for our neighbors—or even more, these stories speak of the necessity of turning those attitudes into actions. 

            At one point during worship, I shared a portion of a longer prayer that I received from United Theological Seminary (where I attended) that included these words that spoke to my heart in the midst of all of the tragedies:

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
 In Jesus we find rescue over sin.
 In Jesus violence and death are overcome.
 In Jesus all persons receive grace.
 In Jesus all are laid bare so that all can be made holy.
 In Jesus perfect love casts out fear.
 Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

            I think these words spoke to me because they emphasize inclusion and love—two elements that seem sorely lacking in our culture these days.  They also speak to the promise of Christ to come and make the world right, and in the meantime, the role we have as his followers to bring about this vision in our own neighborhoods.  May God be with you as you do what you can to share God’s grace and to cast out fear through your perfect love of all persons. 

In the name of the Prince of Peace,

Mark