God’s compassion needs to be experienced and expressed: experienced by us as his people and expressed to the people around us.
This is what happens when we employ shibboleths. We don’t engage in critical thinking, we don’t assume the value of the other person, and we don’t speak with kindness to or about those outside the boundaries of our groups.
If we are always on the go, never at home, what sort of fruit can we expect?
We are knit together fearfully and wonderfully in the womb of this galaxy, we neighbors, breathing the air of God’s breath as we blink and squall at the startling light of Triune love. We are still newborns learning to recognize the face of our Creator, learning to move through the example of Christ our brother.
The man’s gaze dropped. Hesitantly, he spoke.
“We are from Iraq.”
One month ago, an American couple herded three children into a men’s room in the Istanbul, Turkey airport. The wife visibly pregnant, they settled in for the night and texted to family members in the U.S., letting them know that their flight was being delayed indefinitely – keeping some of the details to themselves. All night the parents kept vigil as the children miraculously slept through the sound of explosions, reports of shooting, sonic booms from low-flying fighter jets and men coming in with blood-spattered clothing to wash their faces and hands for their ritual Muslim prayer time.
On the day when we had the least amount of time to tend to the needs of others, we boldly said come join us.
To be entirely sanctified, to be perfect (complete) in your intentions of love, always involves kind respect toward the individual.
Wesley understood this: he took the poor seriously. He wrote health brochures to help improve their quality of living. He worried over the effects of alcoholism on poor families. He went out to the miners because the miners mattered to him. And when he finally found himself in the twilight of his life, he wrote his last known letter – about the pervasive evil of slavery.
Friends, there is nothing Wesleyan about putting down the foreigner among us. The Old Testament has a great deal to say about how we treat the alien, the foreigner, the “other” who eats differently or dresses differently than we do.
The first name given in creation was Adam. It means humanity.
The Scripture story tells us that God, through Jesus Christ, created all of humanity in his image and breathed into us the breath of life.
I thought of Adam when I saw the first hashtag given to Aylan’s story: Humanity Washed Ashore.
The “I” pronoun has disappeared in favor of “us” and “we.” Instead of asserting his rights – rights he was born into and rights he earned – the disappearing “I” pronoun shows he is instead relinquishing them. A psalm that could be about his personal religion instead becomes a song about our collective faith.