Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
This Fall, our Sunday School families are exploring what it means to have compassion for others, ourselves, and the world through Illustrated Ministry Compassion Camp. The endless options of the program are allowing our families to learn together at home, outside at NUCC, and online during Virtual Sunday School.
Raise your hand if you have ever felt the urge to yawn when you see someone else yawn? What about when someone else laughs or cries? It’s truly contagious isn’t it? As soon as we see others yawning or laughing or crying, we instinctively feel the urge to do the same. That’s because something in our brain tells us what it is like to feel laughter or sadness or sleepiness. Feeling what others are feeling is called empathy. And when we have empathy, we become more compassionate toward one another.
Compassion for others, and even myself, is something I’ve yearned to cultivate more of, but if I am truly honest with myself, I don’t think I have fully understood what compassion means or how to have it or show it, until I started digesting the Compassion Camp materials in preparation for teaching.
What the children and I are learning is that we can put God’s love into action when we set aside our indifference and welcome those who are suffering, the same way that Jesus did.
When Jesus saw the blind men, he “had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him” (Matthew 20:34).
When he saw groups yearning for his teaching, “he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). Christ noted the confusion of the people in the crowd following him, and “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34).
These examples of Christ’s compassion show us that he first had to notice the people around him. Then he had to put himself in their shoes and feel what they were feeling. Jesus had empathy for them. This is what compassion is: I see your suffering, I feel your suffering with you (empathy), and I help ease your suffering.
At the same time that the Coronavirus has been contagious, so too are the empathetic hearts of so many Americans who have worked tirelessly to ease the suffering of people all across this country. Their large and small acts of compassion inspire me every day to be more observant and to strengthen my empathy muscles.
Prayer Focus: For those who are alone in nursing homes and assisted living communities
Prayer: Lord God, free me from being self-absorbed and fill my heart with the love and compassion of Jesus. Show me the ways that I can bring love and encouragement to those who are sad, lonely or afraid. Amen
Enjoy listening to all five of the original Compassion Camp Songs. The songs are short, simple and singable!
Write a note of encouragement or draw a picture for someone you know that might be sad, lonely or afraid. Some examples of what you might write:
I wonder if you’re scared of getting sick. I’m praying for God to protect you.
I wonder if you’re feeling lonely. I’m praying for God to surround you with love.
I wonder if you’re tired. I’m praying for God to give you strength and energy.
I wonder if you’re anxious. I’m praying for God’s peace for you.
I wonder if you’re worried about the future. I’m praying for God to give you hope.
I wonder if you’re sad. I’m praying for God to cheer you up.