Tag Archives: Empathy

Empathy

Living in the Spirit
October 26, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1Thessalonians 2:1-8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully maltreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.
–1 Thessalonians 2:1-4

The quote, Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words*, is needed as much now as ever. Our deeds matter and often speak louder than our words. Words are important too. Words can tear down, and words can lift up. Those of us who identify as Christian define Christ to others through our words and deeds just as Paul did. Empathy seems a lost art. In a diverse world we must invest the time to learn how what we do and what we say impacts the other. What might be comforting to me might cause pain to someone else.

When I arrived at an elder Pawnee woman’s home to update her case information many years ago, I found her making the most beautiful beaded baby moccasins. She said they were for her new grandbaby. There were beads across the toes that extended the length of the bottom of the tiny booty. I commented on the quality of her work and wondered if she would make some that I could buy. She was silent for a moment, finally replying, “You do not want moccasins like these. The beads on the bottom tell that my grandson will never walk on the earth. These are for his burial.” She was kind and understanding of my ignorance and she taught me the importance of empathy.

Prayer: Lord, open our hearts to glimpses of the world from the viewpoint of the people we encounter. Help us be conduits of your love as we serve in your name. Amen.

*Often attributed to St. Francis, but the author is unknown. Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/u/unknown109569.html

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

 

Empathy

Preach the gospelEpiphany
Celebration of God
Manifested in the World
January 30, 2015

 Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling-block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall. — 1 Corinthians 8:9-13

 We do not have to deal with the question of whether food offered to idols was in some way wrong. We do have to face the fact that the way we live says probably more about how others interpret Christ through us than all the words we may utter. Our actions or more often our lack of actions do speak louder than words.

I enjoy the special segments on the evening news that attempt to introduce some of life’s positive moments. Some person goes out of their way to help a stranger. Those stories tell us that there is still good in the world. Truth is such actions should be so common place that they are considered news at all.

Our scripture today is taking this idea one step further. We are called to not temp others in areas of their weaknesses. Paul essentially said that the meat offered to idols is just meat and it was OK to eat it, unless our eating it impacted someone negatively for whom the meat still held some connection to the idol. What about serving wine for dinner to guests who include a recovering alcoholic? What about saying to someone trying to control their weight, “O, you can have one of these cookies, I took the calories out?’

Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to enter into the weakness of others with empathy and accompany them in their quest to overcome whatever is separating them from you. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Nurse’s Hand

Nurse's HandLiving in the Spirit
October 24, 2014

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. —1 Thessalonians 2:5-8

I had major surgery ten years ago. My first memory waking in the middle of the night was seeing a strong, beautiful ebony hand reaching across tubes and blankets to caress my untethered arm saying in a sweet, sweet voice, “You are all right, everything is all right. Can I help you with anything?” I don’t remember if I even replied to her as I drifted back to sleep with the trust that I was in good hands. Paul’s words in this scripture flashed me back to that moment. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children.

 When I do yoga at home, I usually play a recording of The Priest* which includes the traditional gaelic blessing, May the Road Rise up to Meet You that closes with the phrase may God hold you in the palm of his hand. The first time I did the combination of this song and my yoga exercises, I experienced the most profound sense of God’s hand cupping around my whole being. Now when the busyness of my life crowds in on my times of meditation, my mind can go in many different directions, but when this point is reached in the recording,  I immediately remember whose I am.

In order for us to be the one that tenderly cares for others we must know what that feels like. We need to filter out all those life experiences that may have jaded our understanding of love and reestablish our understanding of the pure and holy love of God. God can and will heal our wounds and can convert those wounds into wonderfully lifesaving empathy for the neighbors who come our way.

Prayer: May the road rise up to meet you.
              May the wind be always at your back.
              May the sun shine warm upon your face;
              the rains fall soft upon your fields
              and until we meet again,
             may God hold you in the palm of His hand. (traditional gaelic blessing)

*The Priest CD, RCA label, 2008 (The Priest is the Title of their first CD and the name of the trio. Most of the songs on this CD are sung in Latin)

 All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.