Addressing Troubled Hearts
Dear friends, my heart is troubled today. As it should be! I worry not for those who are troubled but for those who have become desensitized to the pain and suffering in this world - Those of us who no longer see or hear the cries of those in need. Having a troubled heart and the tension that goes with it is good…it proves you are alive and connected with God and creation. Systematic Racism, Immigration, Refugees and what your response is towards them…exclusion or inclusion. Fear or love!
I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker who was against taking refugees into this country. Ironically her parents were refugees from Germany after World War II and were sponsored by another American family. So we talked and what started as a conversation that we were on opposite sides of soon became one of mutual understanding. She wasn’t opposed to “sponsoring” refugees she was opposed to the government taking them in. Then it dawned on me that both sides of the argument were wrong and right! The conservatives want no refugees and the liberals do…but here is the problem on both sides – both sides want the government to act. That is a real problem because it distances us from the problem! No government can legislate compassion…that happens in the heart and is a very personal thing. This country has gotten it wrong many times in the past. With Slavery, Racism and right across the bridge in Philly which has laws against feeding the homeless right outside of the liberty bell…a country which has always proclaimed liberty for all peoples. The statue of liberty, the symbolic entry point into this country reads:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Author: Emma Lazarus
Ironically the homeless are not welcome outside the liberty bell. How appropriate that the author’s name is Lazarus which means God is my help! Lazarus is the only person’s name given in the parables by Jesus. Jesus gave this homeless man a name when he was invisible to those around him in life. Yet the rich man has no name in the story. You see God knows each of their names…it’s personal.
My colleague didn’t want the government to act; she wanted her people to act. It’s easy to say that we have our own homeless and suffering right here. Then do something about it…feed them…learn their names. Where is your heart leading you? Be present and enter into another’s suffering and you will see God in the other and they will see God in you. Make no mistake, however, that nothing you do out of love is ever without risk! But that’s what will change your heart and that’s what will change the world. Each of us must take responsibility and accountability for acting out against injustice and oppression and for easing the suffering of another. And we do this by going into the world and learning people’s names, by sharing their stories and by making compassion personal. God doesn’t care about governments - they will come and go. God cares only about each one of our hearts - for that is eternal! God knows each of their names, will He know yours?!
We don’t love to earn God’s love - we love to demonstrate it! My troubled friends - lift up your lamps into the dark places of the world and shine forth the light of Christ for others to see! Shalom!
Your faithful servant,