2.03.2013

Compassion Glasses

Today's gospel text is one of my favorites. Luke 7:11-17.
It's about "the widow of Nain."  She had already lost her husband.  Then her only son died.
And then Jesus enters the scene....


Soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.



(Artist: Tissot)







Today's Sermon: "He Had Compassion"





Every morning, we wake up. We open our eyes. And we look around at the world. There’s a lot of ways to see the world.  Many different perspectives we can take.  Another way to say it:  There’s a lot of different metaphorical glasses through which we can look at the world.

(I had a variety of sunglasses up at the pulpit, and I tried them on - one by one.)

Sometimes, we wake up, and whether we mean to or not, we put on our grouchy glasses.  And somehow, everything looks not so great on those kinds of days.  We misinterpret what people say. We lose our tempers.

Other days, we end up with other kinds of glasses on....

Sometimes we see the world through a happy lens.  Other times,

-Despairing
-Fearful
-Insecure
-Jealous
-Doubtful

It isn’t just how we “see” things – it’s also about how we hear things. And how we experience things.

In the gospel lesson, we hear about how Jesus looks upon the world. Jesus ALWAYS looks at the world through a lens of compassion. He wears compassion glasses every single day.  Day in and day out – Jesus looks upon people with love.

In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus is heading into the city of Nain. He’s heading toward the city gate. There are plenty of people with him.

There's another party of people at the same city gate.  They are headed out a town.  There's a woman.  And a casket.  And a large group of people.  This widow just lost her only son. Everyone is heading out of town with his body. She didn’t have a husband anymore. And now her son was dead.

Basically, this is the end of the road for her. At that particular time in history, a woman without children of a husband was in a pretty hopeless situation. Without an income – or people to take care of you, women didn’t have many options.

We can fairly easily imagine how the world was looking for her at that moment. We can imagine the lens she was wearing. Probably some deep despair. Probably some deep sadness.

The moment Jesus sees her, he has compassion for her. Because he always, always, always, looks with compassion. He doesn’t look with judgment. He doesn’t ask her about her religious preferences. He doesn’t investigate whether she has fully memorized the 10 commandments.

Jesus isn’t interested in those things.  He’s purely interested in helping her. Regardless of anything else.  He just wants to bring hope back into a hopeless situation.

When Jesus sees anyone experiencing pain – he has compassion. Simple as that. Jesus has compassion, love, kindness – for all of us. Whatever we're facing.  Whatever we're feeling.  Jesus doesn't cast judgment upon us.  Jesus reaches out a hand of compassion.

In this case, he raises the dead son back to life. And then, Jesus “Gives him back to his mother.” In a matter of moments, her life transitioned from hopeless – to hope-filled. The world looked different to that mother. From that moment on, she could see the world through a different set of lenses.

The world must have looked different to her son, too.  And the world looked different to the community of people surrounding them.  The power of compassion is amazing.

The Holy Spirit helps us all to look at the world through the eyes of Christ.  Through eyes of compassion.

Left on our own, we will probably have a tendency to choose other options for eye-wear. But the Holy Spirit helps us. Jesus empowers us to share His compassion. He empowers us to see the people around us – and the world around us, through his eyes. And even when we mess up...he STILL LOOKS AT US WITH COMPASSION.

As a family of faith, we’re invited to share compassion – and not over-think it. Sometimes I am very prone to over-analysis.  I think and worry and worry and think.  I wonder, "Will I say the right thing?" Or, "How should I perfectly handle this?"  Jesus doesn't over-analyze.  He goes for it.  He reaches out and touches the casket.  He helps.

I recently heard a great example of how people extended a hand of compassion and didn't over think it.  A woman in Rochester is dealing with cancer.  And her co-workers wanted to support her.  So they organized a bake sale and a lunch.  They did some planning and organizing - but they didn't over-think it.  They went for it.  And they had great success!

During our anniversary year as a church, we had a great project here at Zion. We raised money for a school in Tanzania to have Electricity.  We didn't over-analyze.  We just went for it!  We reached out a hand of compassion. The Sunday School kids had the opportunity to buy all the animals needed for a family farm in another country.  They did this with their Sunday School offerings.  They jumped in.  They went for it. We when we see the world through a lens of compassion, amazing things are possible.

The power of compassion is world-altering.

As a church, which glasses will we wear? What lenses will we wear when we look out at the world around us?  We’ve got a lot of options.  Fear?  Pride?  Joy?  But when we all root ourselves in the same place – when we can all start to look at one another, our community, and our world through this same lens of compassion – it’s amazing. The world becomes an opportunity – not a threat. A hopeful place – not a fearful place.

Jesus brought compassion to the widow of Nain. Jesus BRINGS compassion to us. And we get to spread it. We get to put on compassion lenses. They might not sell them at your local eye doctor. But the Holy Spirit will give all of us a pair for free. Wear them at home. Wear them at work. Wear them here at church.

May we all see the world through the eyes of Christ. Amen.

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Laura. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I hope you have a beautiful week.

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  2. Right on! My parents came to mind when reading this. They wore these glasses when raising me.

    I like "just do it", don't analyze stuff to death. Don't be judgemental and critical of others, we have no idea. And taking the WIFM (what's in it for me) approach totally misses the point. It's not about "me", it's about service to others.

    Great message, Em! Wouldn't it be fantastic if everyone took this to heart!!

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