In today’s era of global communication and a 24-hour-news cycle, difficult reports and horrific images from far away can easily overwhelm our senses before we even come to know about pain and loss in our own local communities and circles of relationship. I am often asked during times of global conflict, national violence, and extreme weather events: “What can we do?” My responses to those inquiries are often similar, across the spectrum of needs: pray, vote your conscience, give to reputed relief organizations, and-when appropriate-stand up and speak out in protest.
Many times, the list of possible responses to tragedy becomes as generalized and desensitizing as does the steady barrage of bad news. But somehow through it all, my friends, we must stay soft and empathetic toward pain and sorrow. This is an essential part of our humanness, and an elemental part of what it means to engage in meaningful community.
As I have reflected this week on the above words from 1 Peter, I’ve been drawn back to the focus on caring for those closest to us: loving each other deeply, offering hospitality to one another, using our unique gifts to serve others. It seems to me, that especially when the world feels like it’s going increasingly mad, it becomes even more important to stay alert and responsive to the physical presence of needs right in our own communities.
This weekend, we will celebrate, memorialize, and commend to God’s keeping two members of the Grace family: Bob Keller and Lory Garrett. Both of these services will take place on this Saturday at 10 AM and 2 PM, respectively. I am already in awe at folks organizing and mobilizing to host two family receptions (one after each service), others stepping forward to serve in a marathon day of worship, and still more reaching out to the families with love and care in their grief. Additionally, I know that folks are praying and checking in on our siblings who are ill, and others who have lost loved ones in the last few days. This dynamic is not new or unusual for Grace; it is just more striking and pronounced with multiple events on the same weekend!
I believe this work of caring for one another “as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” is the first answer to “what can we do,” whatever news may come from further afield. This is not ignoring the larger global challenges, but it is exercising our ability to feel compassion and to activate that compassion in our lives through works of love and mercy.
Thank you for showing up this weekend for our loved ones in the Grace Family. Please keep doing this work of loving one another and taking care of each other so well.