Celebrating Compassion – Colossians 3:12 -17 & Matthew 15:29-39
Driving home from Presbytery in Kamloops last Sunday afternoon, I listened to the CBC show `Cross-country Checkup.’ If you listened in too, you will know it was a special celebration of the beautiful spirit of Stuart MacLean who died on February 15th at the too early age of 68. The stories were beautiful and funny and sweet and I laughed and cried along with those who phoned in to the show.
One of the things that people called in about were the Arthur awards, named after the fictional dog Arthur of the fictional characters Dave and Morley from Stuart’s weekly stories about the Vinyl Café.
In a world of Academy Awards, and Stanley Cups, and Olympic gold, and the Nobel Peace Prize, the Arthur award may not be that prestigious, that well known; that deeply sought after. The award honours the little kindnesses that ordinary people do for one another that often go unnoticed & unrecorded.
And yet, it is exactly this way of being in the world that we are called to – not only in the Christian faith – but it is the heart of every great faith, and the heart too of those who have faith in humanity. As we read other peoples’ mail – the letter to the Colossians, we hear these words:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
We see in the life of Jesus, that compassion was the heart of his ministry. After days of teaching and listening and healing Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
As our Call to Worship today says, Here on the edge of Lent, in a world staggering under the weight of mistrust, inequality, environmental peril, racism, and all other `isms’ that are meant to divide humanity into `us’ and `them’, we commit this day to celebrate diversity; to celebrate each gift, each person,each word of wisdom and act of kindness.
And so I invite you to nominate someone for an Arthur award today. I invite you to think of someone who has said or done something selfless, loving, encouraging – it can be so simple, it can be an act of a friend, acquaintance or stranger – but let’s honour them today…
During this time of the service people shared stories – two of our long-time congregational members were `nominated’ for their ongoing quiet and steadfast ministry, and for their encouragement and kindness to everyone.
A story was told about the lovely connection with a grandmother, who when this person was a little girl, taught her colours by the flowers in a chenille bedspread they shared.
I nominated Cordova Bay United Church. When I was a nearly-starving student, pregnant with my first baby, and helping lead the youth group along with my husband – also a student, the congregation delivered a pre-Christmas care package of wonderful food – canned goods and special treats. They continued to give us a yearly care-package and a cheque for the next six years until we had finished our theology and were ordained.
This is the story that Jim McConnell shared:
My Arthur award goes back to 1958. I had a hot rod 1947 Mercury convertible that I would go out and road race with some of the other local guys on Friday nights. On a number of occasions I would limp my car up to Cooks Shell Station in Abbotsford and borrow some tools to pull what was left of my transmission. I would be out, under the car in the dark, in the rain, cold and tired. The Anglican Church was just across the street. It would be late at night, I was alone under the car and a voice would say to me “Would you like a hot drink and a ride home? It was the elderly Anglican minister, Rev. Norman Calland,checking in on me. I gladly took him up on his offer. I think he did this for me at least 3 times and I’ll always remember his generosity and kindness.
Now it’s your turn. Who would you nominate for an `Arthur’ award? Share your story! 🙂
You are welcome to post an `Arthur award’ story on the Sicamous United Church Facebook page – or where ever you want to share good news.