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DeacoNote 44: Passion to Compassion

November 29, 2023

This week has seen an interesting confluence of thoughts, memories and events. It is Fall. The days are getting shorter in more ways than one. It is darker, colder, and it feels, if we let it, bleaker. The turkey is gone - even the left-overs. For some of us, who have birthdays around Thanksgiving, the cake is now also gone. In my case it was a Pistachio Bundt cake, made with a "mountain" mold. Since it was green, it must have been the Green Mountains and one of the peaks was dubbed "Candle's Hump!" Some milestones seem to inspire more reflection than others, and three-quarters of a century is one of them. The absolute number has no more significance than any other. But there is a growing realization that I now need fewer fingers, than you find on one hand, to count the number of ancestors, that have lived longer than I have so far. And it begs the question - how many fingers will I need to count the remaining years? It reminds me of a birthday card I saw once. The front face showed a picture of a group of people all arranged for a group portrait on the side of a hill. Inside, the sentiment read,

"Here is a picture of you with all your friends.

In case you are wondering where you are,

you are the one that is over the hill!"

And here is the thing about the "other" side of the hill. It is quieter. The air seems more rarefied. And one hopes, a certain clarity - if not in literal eyesight, then at least in perspective. Many things you once worried so much about, now seem to pale in their luster. And if you sit on this mental hilltop very long, you will begin to wonder how you might be remembered. And then it was in this frame of mind that I happened to catch portions of the funeral of the former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, this week. I was struck by one of the speakers, who said that Rosalynn did not need a eulogy because "her whole life was a sermon." It was a sermon about the words of Christ, having first been perceived by the mind, then taking root in the heart, and then flowing outward in the actions of her hands. It was about turning her "passion" into "compassion" for those less fortunate; speaking for those unable to speak for themselves. The pastor leading the service, summed it up with these verses,

James 2:18 Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. James 2:26 so faith without deeds is dead.

Interestingly, when Jesus knew his days on earth were drawing to a close, he met with the disciples for a last supper and spoke of how he wanted them to remember him. We will recount some of this story this coming Sunday morning, when we celebrate communion.

Luke 22:19-20 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way after supper he took the cup, saying, "This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."

It struck me this week that, among all the messages contained in these few verses, is the idea that Jesus was telling us to remember him, not for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem or all his demonstrations of power, but for his sacrifice. His legacy, if you will, was how he gave of himself for others. While he was capable of calming the storm, he was also the one who washed his disciples' feet.

He would like this to be our legacy as well.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another

And perhaps it is more than fitting that one of the Scripture readings for last Sunday was:

Matthew 25:31-40 When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you give me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison and visit you?" The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Let us resolve this day to show forth our love for all in deeds,

turning our Passion into Compassion,

and our Division into Unity.

Amen Please feel free to share this DeacoNote with a friend, or post a related thought in the Comments below. Your Brother in Christ, Warren Warren J. Ayer, Jr. Chairperson, Board of Deacons United Church of Colchester

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