Compassion

On Monday at Theology on Tap we were joined by Carolyn Witt Jones, who spoke to us about compassion, and the city of Lexington's initiative to take on the Charter for Compassion. As Carolyn explained what the Charter for Compassion was and how individuals sought to use it to make a difference in our community she shared with us her own experience at Yates Elementary School where she recently lead a Mix It Up Day. On Mix It Up Day the students were "mixed up" into different lunch table arrangements; instead of sitting with their usual friends (where races were typically parceled out into clumps around the lunch room), students had the oppertunity to make new friends as they ate lunch in a "mixed up" group of peers. Through this experience the students were able to find that they had more in common with their peers of different races then they may have previously thought before.

Carolyn's experience with the students of Yates Elementary School reminded me of my own experience in Israel. During seminary I had the oppertunity to travel to Israel and stay at St. George's College. Here we were able to learn about a lot of the efforts taking place in the community to support the Palestinian and Israeli relations. One of those efforts was lead by a former Hassidic Jew, who started an after school program for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims. This program allowed for children from two very conflicted communities to come together and do what children do best, play. Here children were able to see through their national and religious differences and get down to the serious business of fun and games. The most moving and astonishing aspect of this program was the difference it made in the lives of these children's parents. While the children had no problems quickly putting their differences aside, the parents were a different story. But, as they continued to pick their children up week after week, they slowly but surely began to interact and communicate with one another, sharing the common bond of their children's friendships.

Today, in the wee hours of the morning, the long awaited announcement  from what seemed like an even longer presidential campaign was made. No matter my feelings on the outcome, it is obvious that we find ourselves in the midst of a very torn and divisive country. As we look forward to our future it is our call not only as members of a democratic country, but moreover as Christians, to find compassion for our neighbors in this nation. Never before has our country seen this much division, or felt this much pain from overdue reconciliation. It is our duty to love our neighbors as ourselves, and find a way to come together. Before we can begin this work, we will need to show ourselves a little compassion, being sensitive to the fresh news we have just received. As we continue to move forward as a country, we need an intentional return to the compassion that Christ showed the world, and calls us to show each other. We can be active participants in our future, as we come together, and bring the kingdom of God closer to this broken world, starting first by showing our neighbors a little more compassion.

As we seek to find solace and comfort, let us look to the words of our most compassionate God, in Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
   though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
   God will help it when the morning dawns.
‘Be still, and know that I am God!
   I am exalted among the nations,
   I am exalted in the earth.’
The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.

If you are in need of conversation or prayer know your clergy are here for you. We are happy to make ourselves available during this time. 

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