Reach out in Compassion
By Deb Crowley of Charlotte, MI, USA
As he [Jesus] approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow… When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. —Luke 7:12–15 NRSV, adapted
My sister and I discovered Community of Christ when we were teenagers. Mom had divorced for the second time; our siblings were living in three homes. The church became a haven. When Mother remarried, our stepfather, Bob, became the authority in the home and did not mince words about his feelings toward church. Every Sunday we lived in fear and anxiety that he would declare we no longer could attend.
Before leaving home for college I asked for the sacrament of baptism. Seeking permission from my stepfather was difficult. But, he gave permission, and on July 20, 1969, the day man first walked on the moon, I committed my life to Christ. One big step for humankind, a huge step for me!
Eventually I married, and my church family loved my Catholic husband into the church. To protect that which was so precious to me, I avoided sharing anything church related with my parents. Yet my stepdad continued to make critical, snide remarks. Soon after our first child arrived, they retired and moved to Florida. The pressure was off.
Fast-forward a decade plus. Bob suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak. Mom suffered from a breathing disorder and required an oxygen tank to breathe. They moved back to Michigan, next to us in a home we bought together so they could be near us. Broken in health and spirit, they began to attend church with my family. Despite poor hygiene, the wheelchair, and hum of Mom’s oxygen tank, they were hugged and loved by church members.
In 1989, although their health was poor, they agreed to attend family camp with us. Our pastor asked Mom if she’d like to be baptized. She said yes! Bob pointed at himself and nodded his head “yes.” He did not want to be left out.
Two people carried Mom in a lawn chair. A nurse held her oxygen tank. I held her hand to calm her if she had a panic attack, and we lowered her into the water to give her life to Christ. We baptized Bob, also.
Jesus had made the impossible possible. Never in a million years would I have speculated that those who had given us such grief over church would one day join that same church family. To top it off, we baptized them on the same date as my baptism 20 years earlier. I marvel at God’s unexpected compassion and the healing for my mom and dad…and me. What a blessing!
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, we know your love is unconditional—we see evidence of it every day. May we have the compassion that you show so we might share Christ’s peace with every person.
Spiritual Practice: Breathing God’s Compassion
Light a candle and sit quietly, reflecting on the fire and light of God. Pay attention to your breathing and let it become calmer and deeper as you focus on God’s presence. Ask God to breathe in you. Imagine each breath carrying the light of God into your lungs, bloodstream, and every cell in your body until God’s Spirit fills you. Now imagine breathing out God’s compassion and grace each time you exhale. Pray to have the Spirit of Christ radiate from your life like the gentle flame of a candle.
Today, God, I will be compassionate—even to those who don’t seem to care.