The Blessed Inconvenience of Compassion
January 24, 2024 Creekwood United Methodist Church

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The Blessed Inconvenience Of Compassion

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“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”

-Psalm 40:1-2 NRSV

“Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.”

-Psalm 139:7-8 NRSV

In 1624 an Anglican cleric by the name of John Donne put together a devotional book that sought to guide people through sickness and death. In meditation 17, Donne penned a familiar phrase:

“No man is an island…”

(modernized language)

This same 17th meditation also brought us “For whom doth the bell toll?” into the vernacular of our literature, because Donne’s reflection was around death and suffering, and asking why he should care for another’s pain. He wondered why he felt sad and affected when the death bell tolled, instead of grateful that it wasn’t him. After all, aren’t we all just in an epic battle of “survival of the fittest?”

Rewind approximately 1,591 years ago to another group of people trying to make sense of death and suffering, only there wasn’t the compassionate announcement of a bell rather a tragic show of force by the Roman Empire and Jewish religious authorities aimed at humiliating Jesus of Nazareth and his followers. Christian apologetics professor William Lane Craig has pointed out, “Why do all of these humiliated people keep pressing on? Why would they continue to give all of themselves to a disgraced fraud?”

The answer he offers is: Compassion.

But not compassion FOR Jesus. Jesus’ followers are inspired by the compassion shown BY Jesus. Jesus who never passed by a leper, a blind person, those who couldn’t walk, those who were begging, and even the tax collectors, prostitutes, and others who needed someone to tel them they mattered and belonged too.

When James and John want to rain down holy fire upon Caananites mocking Jesus, he rebuked them for their quick desire to destroy those whom God also loves (Luke 9:51:56).

When John’s ego was upset that someone else was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, Jesus rebukes him for his lack of teamwork (Mark 9:38-41).

When Peter has denied Jesus three times to save his own skin, Jesus meets him by the seashore and not only forgives him, but sets him to work again (John 21:15-17).

When a lawyer challenges Jesus as to who his neighbor is, and who he should care about, Jesus tells a story of an unlikely Samaritan hero that outshines the Jews by going out of his way to show compassion (Luke 10:25-37).

Those who are trying to wrestle with Jesus’ death and suffering are most likely caught in that moment because they’ve been with someone who refused to accept that anyone suffering is ok. They’ve seen him offer comfort through presence and healing to those in need. They’ve learned about generosity and seen it in action. They’ve learned there is no where God isn’t and there is no one God doesn’t care about.

Nothing they are feeling in this moment is about their own survival or thriving. Everything they are feeling is out care and concern.

They’ve been transformed

They see the bigger picture.

They embody what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would later say, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.” They know that we are interconnected spiritually, and we will only be our whole selves if we make sure others are whole.

Fast forward to this week. Tuesday morning to be exact. A woman who has been coming every week for a while, asking for prayers about a situation that none of us felt equipped to handle, had scheduled to come Tuesday morning. She asked for there to be more people than just me, this time, perhaps people like Alice and Deen Oates or Julie Stelly who had prayed with her before. This time it was Pastor Keri Lynn, Carol Crilly, and Kelly Loter.

Not one of us knew what to expect, really how to help, or what the outcome will be, but these faithful, compassionate members of Creekwood stood and prayed faithfully anyways. They didn’t really even know the person, but they were patient as she meditated and worked through what God was doing – and it took a while.

I was so impressed by people that stopped their day, inconveniently, to help a stranger. And it’s not the first time it has happened. Creekwood is built on and full of stories of inconvenient compassion – times when people became Good Samaritans and sacrificed their own time, money, convenience, and priorities to make sure someone else felt whole. And what I have heard each and every time is that the person giving care and compassion felt more whole themselves while helping someone else.

Perhaps it’s because no person is an island? Perhaps we are wired to feel hurt for each other in our purest forms of humanity? Perhaps we’ve been transformed by a God who doesn’t leave people stranded on the side of the road?

Great work Creekwood.

Our community needs compassion. Where better to find it than here?


David Lessner

Stewardship Note

Pledge cards are rolling in online and through paper. Pledge cards are a compassionate action towards each other, on top of being a devotion between God and you. Estimating your giving is a commitment to help make the experience your siblings in Christ have the best that it can be, and unites us in ministry and grace together.

Please take an opportunity to pledge online (following the instructions below) or turn in your pledge care before or during worship on February 4. Last year we had 144 pledges. Can we get to 150 this year? We can with your support!