Here is the text for a devotional I recorded to be aired Friday morning on WCVK.  I worked hard on it, so I might as well post it here also.  

There are several distinct moments in my life when I have been overcome with sadness because of the pain of those I don’t even know.  I remember sitting in silence in my 5th grade classroom watching TV on the day Reagan was shot; I remember getting up early and sitting on my grandmother’s sofa to witness the space shuttle Challenger launch, only to sit in shock as it exploded; I remember exactly where I was driving when I heard the radio reports of a school shooting in a little Colorado town called Colombine.  But I am even more deeply affected by those incidents that affect people on a larger and more destructive scale – 9/11, the Russian children held hostage in their school, the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the recent tornadoes in our area. 

Why are we so moved by these events?   Why do we feel such pain at the suffering of others?  Why do we sit for hours watching the latest news reports to find each new detail?  Why are we motivated to give money, food and clothing to help?  Isn’t it because ultimately we are family – because we are all made in the image of God, and therefore have a deep connection to one another? Isn’t it because God is the Father of us all, even those who don’t know Him? 

The Bible is clear that we are meant to experience life together.  I think of verses like Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” and 1 Corinthians 12:26 – “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”  While these verses are often used to describe relationships within our individual congregations, should they apply to those in the world who don’t know Him.  Does what happens to them affect me?  Jesus answers this question with a resounding “yes.”

In a blistering attack on the Pharisees recorded in Luke 6, Jesus said “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

In Matthew 25 we read a parable about the Judgment.  As Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, He does it based on their treatment of “the least of these” – the poor, the sick, the hungry and the imprisoned.  What is striking is that both groups are surprised.  One group is surprised because they didn’t even see the opportunities to do these things, while the other group didn’t even realize they were doing them.  I believe the first group was waiting for one of “their own” to be sick or in prison, to be hungry or thirsty.  They don’t realize that we are a family, a community.  We are affected by the plight of “the least of these,” and therefore it is our responsibility to act to make our community better. 

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