Worship Materials: Compassion

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

THEME                      Path to Oneness

THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION

  1. Imagination is the midwife of compassion.
  2. Compassion belongs more to the gut than to the heart or the head.
  3. Compassion is sharing the passion of the other as well as walking in their shoes.
  4. To glimpse the wholeness of life we must see ugliness in beauty and corruption in the good as well as the reverse. For nothing is as simple as it seems.
  5. Compassion is entry into the heart of the Trinity which is consubstantial and co-eternal; in other words to discover that one is essentially of the same substance as the other person or the other thing and that one shares their history as part of the Cosmos.
  6. It is the mark of the saint to be able to see something of God even in the most evil and corrupt of human beings. After all in Christian mythology the devil was a fallen angel.
  7. If walking in one’s neighbour’s shoes only means doing what they do then it is not enough; for we are called to feel as they feel and think as they think. Only then we will be able to understand them.
  8. There is no compassion without forgiveness and no forgiveness without the willingness to let go of one’s hurts and to abandon the victim mentality.
  9. Compassion is the wings of the angel that embraces all.
  10. Compassion is the source of restorative justice for at its best justice is not punishment but the transformation of both the victim and the perpetrator.
  11. Compassion is not so much a feeling but a touching of the heart of the other.
  12. It is an over-simplification to claim that wrong-doers always understand what they are doing; Jesus cried out from the cross ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’
  13. Most wrong-doing arises from the dangerous delusion that greed and manipulation can satisfy our deepest needs.
  14. Use your mind and your heart but never let them override your gut for your gut is the source of compassion. The Hebrew Scriptures speak of the “bowels of compassion.”
  15. What you feel in your gut can change the world provided that it is not intellectualized out of existence by your mind or sentimentalized by your heart.
  16. The purity that has no place for impurity produces a smiling mask and not a true compassion.
  17. To give without being willing to receive is destructive both of the giver and the receiver.
  18. Compassion comes through seeing yourself in the other that is in you whether it is people, animals, plants or even the whole of the Cosmos.
  19. Out of imagination comes compassion,
    Out of compassion comes awareness,
    Out of awareness comes action.
  20. To believe that God is in all people requires a conversion of the mind. To see God in all people requires a conversion of the heart.
  21. Look in the mirror and you see yourself.
    Look into your heart and you see your neighbour.
  22. The purpose of life is the attainment of awareness and the heart of awareness is compassion.
  23. Compassion is the door to neighbourliness and awareness is its key.
  24. Our hopes are shaped by dreams yet without the connecting power of love they can die in lonely isolation.
  25. Until I can view with compassion what appears to be ugly and grotesque, destructive or tragic I am locked into a world of fear, anger and negativity.
  26. Dogma divides, stories unite, so listen to the stories beneath the dogma.
  27. From enclosure to inclusion, from duty to compassion.
  28. The emptied mind has room for compassion.

 

PRAYERS

  1. O God of compassion, the discernment that comes through imagination, may we seek to find that of God in all people and in so doing put to one side all our criticisms, condemnations and judgements, so that like the Forgiving Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, we may rejoice in what is good in others rather than focusing on their weaknesses, remembering that as we give we shall receive.

 

  1. O Christ, the friend of the marginalized, may we use our divine gifts of imagination and listening to discern the hurt that lies behind the violence, the insecurity that lies behind the arrogance and the victim mentality that controls the powerless. In this way may we see beyond people’s exteriors to discern “that of God” and that of ourselves within each one of them.

 

HYMNS

We are always part of the other. (BL)

When the world reveals a fractured face. (BL)

When we discern Earth’s fractured face. (BL)

Repaying force. (BL)

“Weep not, weep not for me”. (BL)

When the picture haunts my mind. (BL)

 

O spirit of knowing. (BL NZ METH)

www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/boundlesslife

When loves flies on the wings of sacrifice (BL NZ METH)

www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/boundlesslife

I will talk to my heart. (BL NZ METH)

www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/boundlesslife

 

Which code can assist us. (Modern Ten Commandments) (SYSJ Teens)

 

Your cross provides a window, Christ. (STS1)

How can the people’s cries, O God? (STS1)

Live like Jesus in the moment. (STS1)

God now calls us each to seek. (STS2)

Singing the Sacred Vol 1 2011, Vol 2 2014 World Library Publications

 

TEEN SONG

We all have stories. (SYSJ)

 

POEMS / REFLECTIONS

 

LOOKING FOR CHRIST IN PEOPLE

If I am looking for Christ in people

I have to ask myself

What sort of Christ do I believe in?

Is it

the happy Christ,

the tired Christ,

the anguished Christ,

the betrayed Christ,

the abandoned Christ,

the grieving Christ,

the compassionate Christ,

the crucified Christ,

the angry Christ,

the Christ who enjoyed feasting with publicans and ‘sinners’

but who condemned the hypocrisy of the religious elite,

the Christ who attended synagogue

but who rocked the boat of the establishment?

If we look carefully at the Gospels there emerges a picture of a very complex person whom we often seek to compress into one miniaturized box.

The very least we can say of Jesus is that he was a prophetic mystic ‑
one who as a prophet saw all the destructive faults and failings of human beings but who as a mystic also saw God in all people.

So, if we are looking for Jesus in people, we must abandon all our preconceived ideas, all our judgments and look for that particular form of ‘that of God’ which is in this person, despite all their unattractive or even obnoxious behavior.

We need to remind ourselves that Jesus came not to condemn people but to put them in touch with their true life.

Having done this we will be able to move with greater facility into our own golden lake, our own space of spirit, our own space of connection; for in that space we are one with all people, in that space there is only love – no judgement, condemnation or exclusion, in that space there is only God.

 

WHEN YOU CAN SEE

When you can see the divine in yourself

you will be able to see the divine everywhere.

When you reverence the divine in yourself

you will be able to reverence the divine everywhere.

When you nurture the divine in yourself

you will be able to nurture the divine everywhere.

 

THE STRANGER

How can I genuinely welcome

The stranger

If I have not welcomed

The stranger in my own heart,

If I have reduced myself

To a solely reasonable being

Or to the mask I wear in public,

Or the easily labeled person,

Or one whose smile is worn

Like a glove

Rather than being a reflection

Of inner space?

How can I genuinely welcome

The stranger

Unless I have accepted

The reality of the cross

Within my own heart,

Unless I have moved through

The pain of my shadow,

The pains of past misuse and abuse,

Both given and received,

The journey through the parts

Of my psyche which I wish were not there,

The Mirror image of beauty, love and acceptance

Surfacing as ugliness, hatred and rejection

Until I have known all the opposites

Who dwell within

Like the forgiving and unforgiving thieves

On either side of the crucified Christ,

Until I have seen and felt in my heart and gut

My connectedness

With ancestral and global

Pain and destruction?

Until I have visited that place

Buried racism can still re-emerge,

Tribal boundaries be resurrected

And homophobia and xenophobia

Reappear

Despite all the endeavors

Of my ever-so reasonable

But gut alienated mind.

So, O Christ, help me to

See your cross within me

And claim it as my own

For in that cross-shaped reality alone

Lies the way of wholeness

From which all true hospitality springs.

 

WHEN I WAS VERY YOUNG

When I was very young I became frightened

When I saw people who looked different,

Spoke differently, walked differently.

Then when I took my first service

At a psychopaedic home

I remembered my past fears

And again became discomforted.

But soon I discovered warm hearts

Behind unusual faces

And learning to avoid their spittle

Rejoiced in the warmth of their hugs

And the delight of their welcome.

It was indeed a world devoid of pretence,

Superficiality or reserve.

In them I saw what we were all meant to be,

Delightful, playful, loving creatures.

It was then that I realized

That a misshapen mind or heart

Is a far worse disability

Than any unusual features of

Face, gesture or speech.

 

MORALITY

Morality is not so much a question of labeling things

as either right or wrong

but of deciding what is appropriate in a given situation,

not blind adherence to simplified systems but awareness,

not ideological purity but cosmic sensitivity.

 

FOCUS FOR ACTION

  1. Would our prayer life be improved if we applied the Prayer of Jesus “Forgive them for they know not what they do” to all those people who unwittingly or deliberately have caused psychological, spiritual or physical pain to us?
  2. We are so used to referring to God ‘as love’ that perhaps it would be good to address God as the God of compassion, for that is a more specific description than love which has many meanings.
  3. Our services of worship could be enriched if the members of the congregation were invited to turn to their neighbor and say “I see God in you” and then share at least one good thing that they see in that person.

 

Celebrating Mystery Logo

LOGO NOTE: At the heart of the mystery all the separate boxes disappear and all is one, all is love.

Text and graphic © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.

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