Saturday, August 27, 2016

With Humility

My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God. Sirach:3:17-18

“You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them. No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”  Hebrews 12:18-19, 22B

“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor.  A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him…Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:8, 13-14

Father, we ask you to give us a peaceful end to the conflicts at the root of this refugee crisis.  Jesus, as Prince of Peace, you know that the only sustainable solution to this crisis is a peaceful Syria near your homeland.  Send us peacemakers who will wage peace in this troubled country.  Holy Spirit, send your gift of wisdom for our governmental leaders and ourselves who face decisions about how to respond to these conflicts and how to overcome our own bias and inaction. Amen.

There are many rules that govern our ethical behavior between each other.  Jesus turns some of those overboard. 

Once, I went to an All-Star basketball game pitting NBA players against the best players who graduated from universities in the state of Indiana. Landon Montel Turner is a former American college basketball player. He was a star player on the 1981 Indiana University squad that won the NCAA Championship. His basketball career was cut short by an automobile accident in 1981 that left him paralyzed from the chest down. The game was to raise money for Turner rehab and there was “open seating.”  That meant first come-first served.”  When the gates opened, there was a mad dash for the center court seats to see the likes of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, George “Ice Man” Gervin and others play for Turner.

No one entering Market Square Arena that night was going to run to the upper deck.  But that is what Jesus is asking us to do.  Leave the best seats in the house for others to enjoy. 

Jesus does not stop there with new rules for those attending the dinner.  He also lays down a new law for the host.  Humans are uniquely able to apply the principle of reciprocity to our behavior.  Some might use the term “quid pro quo” to describe this method of returning one favor for another.  If I buy you lunch this week, then you buy me lunch next week. If I invite you to my daughter’s wedding, you invite me to your daughter’s wedding. Or, as Yogi Berra would say, “Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise, they won't come to yours.”

Jesus says enough of that.  If you want to be generous, do actions for people who cannot pay you back.  Jesus should know.  He asks us to carry our cross, yet Jesus knows we cannot do for him what he has done for us.  He has no sins to redeem.

Maybe it takes the worst refugee crisis since Viet Nam’s boat people and since World War II to help us realize what giving to those who can not pay us back really means.

First, check out the essay by World Relief president Scott Arbeiter: Syria’s Children Are the World’s Responsibility.  We cannot look away.  We should not look away.  

Five-year-old Syrian Omran Daqneesh sits in the back of the ambulance after he got injured during an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, on August 17, 2016. (Mahmud Rslan—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Mr. Arbeiter writes, “We’ve seen the news and forgotten, heard the stories and moved on.”  

We moved on to the Italian Earthquake.  The Rio Olympics.  The Election.  The Pennant Race. NFL Pre-Season.  Zika.  We did not think we would be here after hearts were broken seeing the lifeless body of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach last year. But here we are…again.  What can you do?
  1. Speak on behalf of the most vulnerable.  Urge your political leaders to support refugees.
  2. Provide a welcome kit.  Welcome Kits are a collection of basic household goods given to newly arriving refugees by the World Relief volunteers introducing them to their new home. These kits help refugees start building a new life here in the United States, and are a great way for individuals and churches to help meet a practical need for refugees. When you sign up to provide a Welcome Kit, you’ll get an email with the all the resources you need to get started.
  3. Pray.  Download a prayer guide to pray for refugees. (
  4. Give.  NOW. Support your favorite international relief and development organization.  CARE.  CRS.  Doctors Without Borders/MSF. World Vision. World Relief.  Save the Children.

No comments: