Corona Sabbath 15 COMPASSION Reflection Text

Rev. Wells:

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

In this summer series on the theme “Grounded” we turn to one of the foundations of faith – compassion.

Colleen Coughenour:

We listen to a scripture lesson that speaks of compassion from Matthew 9:35-38:

Jesus continued touring all their towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of God’s reign and curing all kinds of diseases and sicknesses.

At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus said to the disciples, “The harvest is bountiful but the laborers are few. Beg the overseer of the harvest to send laborers out to bring in the crops.”

Rev. Wells

Compassion. This word comes from a Latin root that means “suffer with.” So compassion incorporates the idea of being with someone sharing in their pain.

In the New Testament, several times we are told of Jesus having compassion on the crowds and healing and helping people. In the vignette we heard from Matthew, we are told that “Jesus’ heart was moved with pity. . .” The word translated pity is often translated as compassion, and the literal meaning is ‘to have the bowels yearning.’ We might say to be moved in the gut. Gut-wrenching. Jesus sees the suffering of people and is moved in the gut. He has compassion.

This is one of the grounding aspects of our faith as followers of Jesus. We are people of compassion.

We see this orientation in the God of the Hebrew Bible, always taking the part of widows, orphans, the lowly, the poor, the sick. And we see this orientation in Jesus. He embodies a God of compassion.

It is a core part of our orientation as Christians not to ignore or shy away from pain, individual or social, but to engage pain. To share the sufferings of others. To inquire, to listen, to hear, to be present, to suffering and pain.

Sadly some expressions of Christianity miss this and jump right to dangling the carrot. Here’s what you’ll get if you accept Jesus. This is what is in it for you. Here’s how your problems will be solved. Here’s what it will be like after you die. Come to Jesus!

Frankly, if I visit a church or hear a sermon or go to a church website and see nothing about helping others or doing something for people who are having a hard go of it, as individuals or as victims of the structures of society, I am skeptical about whether the church is really Christian, really about following Jesus.

I’ve been to churches where the people are what I would consider extremely disadvantaged, in this country and in other parts of the world. And you still see the people looking for ways to respond to the needs of others. That is faith grounded in the way of Jesus and the God of Jesus.

The invitation from Jesus is, come follow me. And engage with the pain and suffering of others. Now Jesus was also known as a glutton and a drunkard, so it’s not about being sad all of the time. But it is about being in solidarity with people who are in pain. And even finding joy in that. In the shared mutuality and vulnerability.

As we think of Jesus having compassion on the crowds, who can we imagine Jesus suffering with today? What would he find gut-wrenching today? Surely he would be moved by the crowds demonstrating about the killing of black people by the police. Surely he would be moved by sufferings of people who are victims of systemic racism.

But there is more pain in our midst. And I think Jesus would also be gut-wrenched at the condition of white supremacists like the group that disrupted a racial justice demonstration held by the UCC church in St. Augustine recently. Jesus would also see the pain in the people who have been shaped by hatred.

I think Jesus would also see the pain among those who are are caught up in a system that they know is unjust but feel powerless to change.

I think there are many, many crowds of people today that would move Jesus to gut-wrenching compassion. Jesus shows us about compassion in its fullness. The openness to pain and suffering in all its manifestations. In reflecting on compassion in the book, The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen writes, “Compassion can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates distance and distinction, which prevents us from really being with the other.”

We all experience pain. We are all in need of compassion. And we all have the capacity for compassion. As followers of Jesus, we commit ourselves to cultivating an orientation of compassion for others as well as for ourselves.

And we do this by paying attention. Listening. Hearing. Putting ourselves in spaces where the truth is being shared. And letting our guts wrench.

This is why leaders in the antiracism movement, including those locally, are encouraging conversations. Talk with someone you know about their experiences around race. Talk with people of color if you are Euro American. And ask about their experiences with the police. Or how they feel about the statues and monuments around us. Or things being named after confederate leaders and slave owners. Ask. Listen. Open yourself up to hearing the pain.

Jesus listens. He hears. He sees. He asks no questions about people’s beliefs or rap sheet or pedigree. Their pain gives them cred with Jesus. And he has compassion, is moved in the gut, and responds in ways that are healing. That is who we are as Christians.

While compassion looks altruistic, compassion is also about our healing. Compassion heals the soul of the one who seeks to be compassionate. It is about experiencing our full humanity because to harden our hearts, to not listen, to not expose ourselves to the suffering of others, cuts us off from our fullest, deepest, truest humanity. It makes us less than who we are intended to be and have the capability of being. It diminishes us. Compassion makes us whole. It completes our humanity. And it helps us to get in touch with our own suffering which often times we ignore, quell, or stuff and it eats away at us from the inside and effects our behaviors in ways that we maybe don’t notice or understand. Compassion is a necessary component of the full expression of our humanity.

Many times we reference the teaching in Genesis that each and every person is created in the image of God. And that God is a God of compassion. In a contemporary book about compassion we are reminded:

“God’s compassion is total, absolute, unconditional, without reservation. It is the compassion of the one who keeps going to the most forgotten corners of the world, and who cannot rest as long as there are still human beings with tears in their eyes.” [From Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life by Donald P. McNeill, Douglas A. Morrison, and Henri J.M. Nouwen]

Like Jesus, may the compassion of God live in us, heal us, and make us whole. Amen.

[pause]

As you listen to the music from Hilton which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings and that arise for you.

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Weekly Update 6/24

WHAT IS GOING ON AT CHURCH –

Summer Sundays

The theme for the Corona Sabbath posts this summer is ‘GROUNDED.’ Yes, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, many are not taking expected summer trips and vacations.  Feeling grounded.  And with the demonstrations going on, many do not feel safe to venture out because of the pandemic and feel grounded.  And with a global pandemic, a global recession, and global demonstrations against racism, it is a time to lean on our faith to help us feel grounded.  Each week’s presentation will explore a different dimension of our faith which helps us to feel grounded in these uncertain times.  When we are grounded, we can grow and flourish and bear fruit!  So, look for the Corona Sabbath post each week to help you be grounded!


Corona Sabbath

Each Sunday will have a different theme.  In addition to the material from Hilton and Kim, we hope to include contributions from the congregation each week.  You are invited to send a picture, a poem, a quotation from a book or article, an image, a work of art, a song, a video of you doing something or reading something, anything you would like, that you feel relates to the theme.  Hilton and Kim will try to incorporate the contributions into the Corona Sabbath Devotional on the related theme.

The themes coming up are:

Hope for the Future

Forgiveness

Compassion/Justice

Service/Generosity

Transformation

Trust

Gratitude

Comfort

Peace

Healing

Wonder/Awe

Please email contributions on any of these topics to the church at lakewooducc@gmail.com. Or use the “regular” mail. 

Is there something you would like to share but are not sure where it fits?  No worries.  Send it in and it will get used where appropriate. 

Many thanks!


This Sunday

The church will be open from 10:30 to 11:30.  The peace candle will be lit.  It will be a time of prayer and reflection as a witness that the church is still open and ministry continues even though we are not able to gather in person for worship.  

Look for a Corona Sabbath post on Friday.  Check for it at the website – lakewooducc.org
Also, please subscribe to the website so that you receive regular updates about church life. 


Hymnals for All

While we might not be able to recite many scripture verses, we can probably sing the words to many hymns.  Singing is one of the things people miss most about not having in-person church services at this time.  Hymns are a source of inspiration.  We have associations with certain hymns.  The tunes and the words help us to feel grounded.

Music Director, Hilton Jones, would like to use more hymns in the devotional posts provided by the church.  If you have a hymnal and sing along, there are no copyright issues and problems. 

To that end, please know that the church hymnals are available to be checked out like a library book but with no due date and no fines!

You may pick one up at church on Sunday mornings (10-12) or Wednesday mornings (9-12) or Sunday evenings (7:30-8:00).  There is a clip board to sign your name indicating that you have taken a book. 

If you would like a hymnal delivered to you, please contact the church office and we will try to do that. 

When we can worship in person again, the hymnals will need to be returned. 

‘God respects me when I work; but God loves me when I sing.”  Rabindranath Tagore 


Are You Counted?

With all of the upheaval in society, it might be easy to forget about the census.  But responding to the census is a way to respond to all that is going on around us.  The census is very important to the allocation of resources in our society.  And it effects our representation in government.  If you have not already done so, complete the census!  

https://2020census.gov/en.html


Sunday Evening Demonstration for Racial Justice

Last week there were 14 people participating in the demonstration for racial justice along 54th Ave. S. in front of the church from 7:30-8:00 p.m.  In addition to folks from LUCC, there were people from the Social Justice Committee at Westminster Suncoast, and a friend of a church member.  There were many expressions of support and a few expressions of opposition from passing cars.

This public witness will continue in coming weeks.  Everyone is welcome.  Bring a sign or use one of the signs provided.  The intent is to send a positive message about racial justice.  No political or partisan signs, please.

Here are pictures from last week’s witness:  https://lakewooducc.org/2020/06/23/sunday-evening-demonstration-for-racial-justice/


Father’s Day Zoom

Many thanks to those who participated in the Father’s Day Zoom last Sunday.  In addition to many stories about fathers shared by those present, there was a creative reading of “The Good Woman” from Proverbs 31:10-31 re-oriented to apply to a man/father/husband.  Rick Carr shared a music video featuring a song that he wrote and pictures of his father that he prepared for his father’s memorial service in 2011.  The new board book for children by Ibram X. Kendi, Antiracist Baby, was read as part of the Zoom.  It was a very meaningful time together.  Many thanks to all!

There will be another all church Zoom gathering on the evening of Friday July 24.  This will be a Christmas Eve in July celebration complete with Christmas carols.  And maybe even Christmas cookies!

There will also be an all church Zoom gathering  on Sunday morning August 9 at 10:30.  The theme is Back to School.  It is the Sunday before school starts and it will be a celebration of learning and a time to share memories of teachers who have made a difference in our lives.  


Feedback Forms

Many thanks to those who submitted feedback forms to the church.  The advisors met last Sunday and reviewed the forms and made plans according to the suggestions and recommendations of the those who responded.  The information provided was extremely helpful.  Again, many thanks!  Please know that ideas and responses and feedback from the congregation and beyond are ALWAYS welcome!  Please contact Pastor Kim Wells or one of the advisors:  Lucille Ruga, Jane Diven, Malcolm Wells, Olivia Gibson, or Patti Cooksey.  


Labyrinth Has Been Refurbished

In recent weeks, the labyrinth has been restored and refurbished with some trimming, raking, and new hay.  Please know that this spiritual path is open for your use any time. 

There is a guided walk on Wednesday mornings at 9:00.  This involves scripture, reflection, and sharing for those who would like to.  This devotional gathering is outside and physical distancing is maintained.   All are welcome!  

https://lakewooducc.org/2020/06/23/labyrinth-has-been-refurbished/


Installation in Covid Time

A colleagues in the Florida Conference UCC was installed last Sunday afternoon on Zoom.  Since there couldn’t be a processional, clergy were asked to send a picture, robed and in red stoles, the color of the Holy Spirit, designated for an installation.  Here is the picture sent by Rev. Kim Wells:

the picture will be in the email and website post.


Creation Justice Task Force Update: Permaculture Report 

On Sunday, June 7 at 11:30am in the Fellowship Hall, the Permaculture Design Team students, Scott and Sarah, presented their ideas for transforming our church property into an inviting and sustainable natural environment for our community and beyond. The Creation Justice Task Force met with them multiple times over the past few months and were ready to see how our dreams and desires for an environmentally friendly, attractive, and useful transformation of our natural environment might translate into a reality. We were thrilled with their slide show and well researched presentation of possibilities divided in three phases for implementation over the next few years.
The Creation Justice Task Force is planning for the Permaculture Design Team to share this slide show and information with more of you in the near future in either a zoom or in person meeting. Stay tuned for further information!


Spiritual Direction Offered by LUCC Clergy Member.

In these troubled times, it is important to find ways to tend to our spiritual lives. In the Christian tradition, Spiritual Direction is one of the ways of paying attention to the spirit in our lives. A Spiritual Director is someone to talk with about what is going on in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God however we may conceive of God.

Rev. Sally Purvis, Ph.D., a member of LUCC, is a retired clergy person with training and experience in Spiritual Direction. She is offering her services as a Spiritual Director to the community. The sessions would be held on Zoom and there is no fee to be paid. Church leaders are pleased to have the ministry of the church expand in this way.

Spiritual Direction with Sally is open to anyone, not just the congregation. And it is offered to everyone whatever their spiritual or religious background or affiliation or lack thereof. Sessions are generally held once every three weeks. Spiritual Direction is not a mode of therapy. It is a process for understanding and deepening your relationship with God/Spirit in ways are authentic and life-giving.

Sally was trained by Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual guide of the 20th century, and did Spiritual Direction as part of her professional ministry before retiring in 2015.

If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction with Sally, please contact her at
sallybpurvis@icloud.com or contact the church (867-7961 or lakewooducc@gmail.com ).

The church is very grateful to Sally for offering this avenue of support to the congregation and the community.


DayStar Donations 

Grocery donations given to the church were donated to DayStar Life Center this week.  Daystar is taking grocery donations as well as adult clothing on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. To drop off donations, drive around to the back of the building to the open bay area. 

DayStar Life Center
1055 28th St. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712

We encourage you to take your donations to them rather than leave them at the church.  However, if you are unable or don’t feel comfortable going to DayStar, please do leave donations at the church and we will deliver them once a month to DayStar.  Thank you.


QUICK LINKS TO OUR RECENT POSTS DURING THE CORONA CRISIS:
Sermon videos: https://lakewooducc.org/category/online-devotional/
Sermon texts: https://lakewooducc.org/category/posts/sermon-texts/
Posts containing music: https://lakewooducc.org/category/posts/music/

For all those links, please note the “Older Posts” button near bottom of page.

FOR JUST THE MUSIC: https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/music-at-lakewood 


Daily Corona Prayer

https://lakewooducc.org/2020/03/20/lucc-corona-daily-prayer


Assistance Available

If you need help of any kind – something from the store, someone to talk with, support managing during shelter-in-place, parenting concerns – please know that the church is ready and willing to help in any way needed.  This situation is trying for everyone.  You are not alone.  We’ll make it through together.  Please contact the church office (lakewooducc@gmail.com or 867-7961 or Rev. Kim Wells at wells.kim.p@gmail.com).  

Miss someone from church?  Give them a call or send a note.  Personal contact is so important when physical contact is limited.  


Music Ministry

About Hilton’s music. . . If you would enjoy hearing Hilton play more Irish folk songs, you can
listen for free at either https://hiltonjones.bandcamp.com/album/irish-
tunes or https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/irish-tunes .


June Birthdays: Genie Terrell 6/10, Tony Rogers 6/21. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: JoAnn Reid, William Owen, Wilbur Reid, Martha Lamar, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, and All healthcare workers and essential workers. All those suffering from COVID-19.

Please keep Yvonne Riesen and family in your prayers.  Yvonne is in the process of moving to the Memory Care unit at Westminster Suncoast.

Vita Uth is having surgery on Wednesday.  Please keep her in your prayers.

 Please Keep Ann Rogers in your prayers as she has been in the hospital and has now been moved to rehab. 

Please keep LUCC member, Olivia Gibson, in your prayers. She is a nurse in a COVID-19 unit in a local hospital. We are grateful for her ministry!


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the Church Office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

Labyrinth Has Been Refurbished

In recent weeks, the labyrinth has been restored and refurbished with some trimming, raking, and new hay. Please know that this spiritual path is open for your use any time.

There is a guided walk on Wednesday mornings at 9:00. This involves scripture, reflection, and sharing for those who would like to. This devotional gathering is outside and physical distancing is maintained. All are welcome!

Sunday Evening Demonstration for Racial Justice

Last week there were 14 people participating in the demonstration for racial justice along 54th Ave. S. in front of the church from 7:30-8:00 p.m. In addition to folks from LUCC, there were people from the Social Justice Committee at Westminster Suncoast, and a friend of a church member. There were many expressions of support and a few expressions of opposition from passing cars.


This public witness will continue in coming weeks. Everyone is welcome. Bring a sign or use one of the signs provided. The intent is to send a positive message about racial justice. No political or partisan signs, please.

Corona Sabbath 14 Father’s Day

father's dayThese weeks when we cannot gather in person for Sunday worship, Lakewood United Church of Christ is providing brief weekly sabbath programs for you to listen to on your own or with others in your social isolation group. They will be posted on Friday so that you can schedule your sabbath time to suit your schedule and your spiritual inclinations. We hope these programs are of spiritual support to you in these difficult times.

There is a scripture reading and a brief meditation by Pastor Kim Wells as well as music offered by Music Director Hilton Kean Jones. This week for Father’s Day, there is a special music video featuring the pictures of father figures contributed by the church family and music by a father and son and daughter-in-law from the congregation.

During these summer weeks, the theme being used in “Grounded.” Some of us feel that shelter-in-place feels like being grounded. Some would normally have travel plans and feel grounded. With the many challenges facing our society, it is important to feel grounded. So these Summer Sundays will focus on key concepts in Christianity that provide grounding. So, welcome to “Grounded.” This post focuses on grace.

You are invited to find a quiet space, inside or outside. Light a candle. Take a look around you. Breathe. Life-giving breath. Be present.

You may begin by offering this reading:

Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let this goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee!

–From the hymn, Come, O Fount of Every Blessing, words by Robert Robinson based on Psalm 36:7-9

When you are ready, start the video below.


(For written text of the above video click HERE.)

On this Father’s Day, we give thanks for those who have had a fathering role in our lives. We give thanks for those who are fathers and have been fathers, offering themselves to the care and nurture of others.

You are invited to watch the video which follows featuring pictures of fathers contributed by the church family and accompanied by music from a father, son, and spouse trio.

Let us pray:

We give thanks for those who have shown us fathering love. We are grateful for those who have nurtured and provided for us. Those who have comforted us and helped us to grow. Those who have taken joy and delight in watching the circle of life continue!

We are mindful that so many who want to be fathers and share their fathering love are not able to do so. We think of those who are separated from their children, those who are in prison, and we remember the many fatherless children in our land and in our world.

We pray for those children who have had their father’s taken from them through violence or death.

We give thanks for neighbors, teachers, uncles, pastors, friends, who share their fathering love with children.

May we help to nurture into being a society that values all fathers and father figures and their importance in the lives of the others. May all children and young people know the support and nurture of fathering love. Amen.

As you listen to the music from Hilton which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings and that arise for you.

After viewing the video, you are invited to offer the following closing:

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

–John Newton, Amazing Grace. Newton was a slave trader who became a Christian and joined the abolitionist movement.


LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal, is to:

  • Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives and in our world;
  • Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people;
  • Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.

QUICK LINKS TO OUR RECENT POSTS DURING THE CORONA CRISIS:
Online Devotionals: https://lakewooducc.org/category/online-devotional/
Sermon Texts: https://lakewooducc.org/category/posts/sermon-texts/

For above links, please note “Older Posts” button near bottom of page.
Music: https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/music-at-lakewood