A Week of Suffering – A Week of Compassion

This has been a season of tremendous suffering as we witness the ongoing heartache of the devastating floods in Pakistan; wildfires in Colorado; ongoing turmoil in Darfur and Eastern Congo; needs that continue to emerge as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf Coast; and hardship for those in Nashville and Middle Tennessee who are just now able to begin long-term recovery efforts. A time of suffering, but a time, also, of compassion. 

In every case, we have been there. We respond. Thanks to our long-standing, trustworthy and close partnerships with implementing organizations Church World Service, the ACT Alliance, Disciples Volunteering of Disciples Home Missions, and through communication and coordination with our Global Ministries partners and councils of churches, we know what is needed when the disaster strikes. And we respond accordingly. Immediately. Efficiently. Effectively. This is what we do. This is what YOU do. Together, as Church, we turn a week of suffering into a Week of Compassion. 

“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 

Disciples, we have seen. We see. Let us always take care. And let us continue to care for so many who are just now beginning the process of recovery and healing. We’re in it for the long haul.  Committing to caring for the journey – that is what we do, together. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your compassion and contributions.  

Compassion Leads to Reconciliation Which Leads to Wholeness

Just as we are responding on a daily basis (sometimes multiple times a day) to human suffering in the world, our Reconciliation Ministry is also working, each and every day, to respond to a world fragmented by racism. As an act of compassion this World Communion Sunday, Week of Compassion invites you to participate in the 2010 Reconciliation Ministry Special Offering. This special offering will be received September 26th and on October 3rd, which is World Communion Sunday.

According to April Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation, our dear colleague and member of the WoC Advisory Committee, “The Reconciliation Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) advances the church’s journey toward wholeness by empowering each expression of the Church to implement structural change to address historic fractures caused by racism. It is the shared goal of our work to foster life-giving community within our Church and in relationship with the whole family of God.” The Reconciliation Offering supports grant and education programs that deepen our self- understanding as people of the Table where we remember Christ’s call for us to be reconciled one to another and ALL to God. 

As we all gather at the table of our Lord, celebrating our unity in Christ, my prayer is that we can truly celebrate the healing we find there. I am always comforted when I approach the Communion table – as broken and weary as I often feel – that only broken bread can be shared. Only that which is not whole – fragmented – divided – separated – broken – can be truly shared. So we all come, each of us broken in some way, to find wholeness, healing and unity. For me, this is also where we experience compassion. We find compassion at a table hosted by Jesus Christ himself, who offers us the gift of suffering with us and, at the same time, offers us the ultimate gift of His healing. In turn, we extend compassion to all our brothers and sisters. In so doing, we become reconciled. 

Might we, Disciples, partake of the Lord’s Supper on this World Communion Sunday as an act of compassion and as an act of reconciliation? Might we take seriously our commitment, as a Church, to become a courageously compassionate, pro-reconciling, anti-racist, whole Church? We will all be invited on September 26 and October 3 to make our offerings to Reconciliation Ministry. I urge you to accept the invitation, knowing that it is both an act of compassion and an act of reconciliation. We’re all in this together. We’ve all been invited to Christ’s Table. For we are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world! As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the table as God has first welcomed us. See you there on Sunday.