Of the things that excite me about this time of year, as we celebrate the Week of Compassion, what may excite me the most is the visits I get to make to congregations all over North America and hear their stories. From Valparaiso, IN to Scottsdale, AZ, I’ve spent the last several weeks hearing congregations speak of their own generosity and commitment. It’s been exciting to see congregations on the front lines of ministry in their own communities, and hear from them about how their sharing through Week of Compassion brings joy to their own sense of call.
I’ve gotten to meet a family whose farm has hosted a Foods Resource Bank growing project that has supported food security projects for farm families all over the developing world, as well as meet folks from a suburban congregation that has generously supported that growing project. I’ve spent time on the east coast with a congregation whose youth group has gone on hands-on mission trips hosted by Week of Compassion partners for years, and speak to folks in the heart of the desert considering a first time mission work trip to respond to damage left behind by last spring’s tornadoes.
Over coffee hour or potluck dinners, I find myself privileged to share conversations about ministry, about giving, about sharing resources. I find myself privileged enough to discuss questions that move people deeply: What do you hear now about the recovery in Haiti, the response in Joplin, the famine in East Africa? And, of course the follow up questions that speak to what it means to be part of the church: what more can we do? and how can we help?
So often, the words I hear-filled with hope and compassion, ring as truly sacred as the words we share around the communion table, and I am reminded by the deep commitment and sense of call that I hear in the stories and questions Disciples share that beneath the liturgical language and the casual conversation we share lies the same commitment: We are the body of Christ, united in and despite our brokenness, and as the body, we are called to heal those who are displaced, outcast, and those who go without.
Because of your commitment to those whose communities face recovery, those displaced by violent conflict, and those who are working to develop new ways to feed their families, each of our Churches serves as a hub of Courageous Compassion: a place that not only transforms the lives of others through sharing, but a place that is itself transformed. I am grateful for each of you, and I look forward to seeing the difference your generosity will make.