Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable
For many years West Hill has offered itself as a warm place to find yourself. Well, last Sunday (Dec. 16), I think the heat got turned up (here's the podcast).
If you were there you were confronted with the plight of our Aboriginal communities, the 20 children and 6 teachers who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Ct., and the abysmal conditions found in factory pig farms. You might wonder, what do all of these have in common….they cry – no scream, for our awareness, attention and our action. Gretta opened her heart and shared her heartbreak, her profound ache for those that suffer.
She was direct. She was impassioned. She was encoueraging us to stretch our hearts. Was it easy to listen to? - perhaps not. For some it may have felt too blunt, too pointed.
Was it important that we listen? - I believe it was!
The Archbishop of Canterbury borrowed an expression from Finley Peter Dunne and used it to describe the purpose of religion...to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. If you were at the service you probably took part in the small group conversations that she encouraged. Were you comfortable or were you "afflicted"?
What did you talk about? Did you finish the conversation or feel that it was just getting started?
As we heard at the Longest Night service on Dec 20, "to offer ourselves to those we will never know is the true gift of love". But how do we do this? How do we challenge ourselves?
How do we find those places where our gifts intersect with the needs of the world?
And then......what do we do? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
-- John DiPede
photo credit: Gretta Vosper