Archive for March, 2015

Karen Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun and well-known theologian has written extensively on the three Abrahamic faiths; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She feels that what is causing a great deal of strife in the world is a lack of compassion.

As such, in 2006 she expressed a desire for a world-wide Charter of Compassion, whereby individuals, communities and groups could agree to live life with compassion for others. In 2008 the Charter for Compassion became a reality.

It’s mandate is simple: “We believe that a compassionate world is a peaceful world. We believe that a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they wish to be treated: with dignity, equity and respect. We believe that all human beings are born with a capacity for compassion, and that it must be cultivated for human beings to survive and thrive”.

To read more about the Charter for Compassion, please check out their website, www.charterforcompassion.org.

Jesus talks about compassion in one of the most well-known pieces of scripture. John 3:16 says “for God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that those who believe may have eternal life”. Jesus is continually putting others before himself. His entire ministry is of teaching, preaching, proclaiming and healing.

He welcomes sinners and outcasts. He eats with them and shares stories with them. He treats everyone as equal; something that was unheard of in those days and, at times, still feels as though it is the way of the world.

Imagine if you were Mary. She was told, as a teenager, that she would have a very special child. She agreed to undertake this ministry. Little could she imagine that her child would die before her…a parent’s worst nightmare. Would she have agreed if the angel had told her that her son would die before her? Or the horrific way in which he would die? Would her reaction have been the same?

Imagine if you were Jesus. He is born fully human and fully divine. He was able to experience hunger and thirst as well as pain. He knew that he had an earthly calling but also a heavenly calling. And he was, as we all are, gifted with free will. To say that Jesus had no choice, is to weaken and diminish the gift he lovingly and willingly gave us, the gift of his own life.

Imagine if Jesus had been told the horrific way in which he would die? Imagine if God has responded when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus called out, in emotional agony for God to take away this what had been commanded. And God was silent. I have wondered for years why God was silent and I can only deduce that God kept silent because if God had spoken, s/he may have changed her/his mind.

God kept silent because s/he felt there was no other way for Jesus to fulfil his ministry.

Remember the story of Abraham and Isaac. Jesus would have known this story well. Maybe he was hoping that God would tell him that because he was willing to die, he would be spared; as God spared Isaac. That didn’t happen. And Jesus died.

Willingly and lovingly.

And Jesus would do so again.

When we live our lives only for ourselves, we fail to see the gift we’ve been given. When we fail to see the suffering of humanity, we struggle to recognise the inherent human dignity of the stranger; of the other. We fail God. And each other.

As we continue through the 40 days, plus Sundays that comprise Lent, let us take the time to be kind to each other. To treat each other as we wish to be treated. Every religion on the planet has adopted this basic premise as it’s main tenet. In Christianity we say “love your neighbour as yourself”.

Spiritually speaking, it is easy to get wrapped up on our own lives and forget the lives of the less fortunate, of the broken, the hungry and the naked. We are called, as Christians, and as human beings to share in the experience of compassion.

Imagine if we all lives our lives believing we were making a difference? Imagine if we lives our lives putting others before ourselves? Of loving with abandon and of ensuring we recognised the inherit human dignity of every person?

We can do it. Each and every one of us. It starts with me. And with you.

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The birds are singing…the crows are clouding the sky.  There is a smell of fresh earth and last years dog poo in the air.

My winter coat feels too heavy and burdensome…I long for the days of cardigans and skirts…of lighter colours and facing the sun.  All winter it’s felt as though a heavy weight was on my shoulders, I could barely look up.  And now, I can see the grass, the snow is finally melting, our Mother Nature is preparing to awaken the new life that slumbers beneath the earth.

It’s so very exciting.  And it’s no coincidence that as we are approaching the halfway measure in Lent we can begin preparations for new life, new birth, new opportunity.

But before we can spring to the incredible day of resurrection, we must first endure the agony of the garden of Gethsemane.

We can’t quite put the winter boots away, there is still ice underfoot.  The furnace still comes on, but not as often and we are foolish to leave home without our hats and gloves.

It’s coming…Spring is coming.  We can’t rush it, but know that it will be here.  Before we know it, the sunlight will seemingly lengthen the days, warm our faces and the first colours of flowers and bushes will begin.  The sprouts of leaves and buds on the trees will remind us that after death comes new life.

Now is the time to walk with our heads held high, like daisies as they push through from their winter slumber.  The birds sing, the buds push through and the world continues as it has always done.

One foot in front of the other, one day at a time.  Day by day a little more light to illumine the darkness, to warm the earth and bring her back to life.

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