In 1982, the great Henri Nouwen composed these words that reverberate nearly four decades later: Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish.
Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless.
Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. When we look at compassion this way, it becomes clear that something more is involved than a general kindness or tenderheartedness. (Compassion, pg4)
Stop and consider how the compassion of God has bolstered you into a new way of living and, therefore, a new way of loving neighbor.
Witnessed in the words, actions, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the incarnational God calls us to consider a more profound form of compassion.
The Gospel of Matthew describes it in this way: 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-38)
The Greek word “compassion” used here in verse 36 is splachnon. So here is the best way to translate this word, “he was moved from his inmost bowels.”
Besides the fact that a literal translation sounds severely disgusting, what Matthew was trying to convey here is that Jesus didn’t just look at the crowd and say, “Oh, those poor people. Whelp, let’s get on with more important things.” Instead, Matthew is trying to say that when Jesus saw the crowd, he was moved with a love that came from his deepest core. For God does not just love, God is love.
You see, the compassion of Jesus-this love that rises out the deep crevasses of our existences- propels us forward into a new way of loving God and others.
On Sunday, we experienced the incarnation of God’s compassion through the stories shared and the openness of our members to serve together. What a powerful experience we had together on Sunday. We are grateful for the faith of church members to try a new way of worship through learning and serving our community.
From packing 300 Kindness Bags to writing hundreds of encouragement cards to CBF missionaries around the globe to preparing a meal for Open Air Ministries service to those experiencing homelessness to those who worked alongside Open Air, what an incredible expression of God’s compassion and hope for the world, beginning with Baton Rouge.
We want to extend a particular word of gratitude to Martha Forbes, Trippe Hawthorne, and Glenn Linzer for leading one of the morning talks on the experience of homelessness.
If you did not pick up a Kindness Bag for your car, please drop by the office during the week or snag one on Sundays in the Narthex.
Let us continue to strive forward into thriving as a church expressing the compassion of Jesus through missions.