With all the ups and downs of life – especially as we continue to navigate a global pandemic – we may easily become overwhelmed; it may be all we can do just to survive some days. How much more so, then, when we are constantly bombarded by news reports that confirm our suspicions about how broken and hopeless the state of the world is? On the one hand, we want to be compassionate and to truly empathize with the plights of others, but on the other hand we are very likely all suffering from emotional burnout, and perhaps also a sense of hopelessness – after all, what can we really DO?
There is a temptation to think that if we are not doing something that we are failing. Indeed, the Letter of James tells us that “faith without works is dead.” On the other hand, we know we cannot feed every hungry person, clothe every naked person, provide shelter for every homeless person, donate to every charity or relief effort. It is tempting to believe that the church exists solely to fulfil these corporal mercies, as these are the ones that seem the most urgent.
Indeed, the church does have a responsibility to work towards justice and mercy, as our Lord did. However, broken spirits and broken hearts are as deadly a hunger as the physical kind. What can we do to address these very real, spiritual needs?
I believe it begins in our hearts – we must not allow the brokenness of the world to convince us to put up walls to protect us from the pain of the hardships we cannot fix; to wall us off from feeling deeply with and for our fellow humans whom God has given us to love and care for, right here in our own neighbourhoods, workplaces and families.
We are not mere mortals, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis. It is immortals whom we pass on the streets, sit next to on the bus, buy our coffee from. Glorious beings whom we joke with, work with, and love. Faith without works is dead, but works without LOVE are similarly dead. We may think that the one life we touch with an act of kindness, a smile, a word of encouragement, is only a drop in the bucket, but God can do amazing things with one drop!
In other words, your presence matters.
Perhaps we might consider taking a break from the news and social media, to allow us to be really, truly present with the friends, family, and neighbours God has given us. For that which we do for the least of them, we do for Christ himself.
Download the Sunday service booklet:Liturgy at Home Pentecost 15 September 5 2021