We are male and female, black, white, and shades in between. We range in age from nearly newborn to decidedly elderly. Some of us are materially poor, others are comfortably well off.
Although we share a fairly common mind about recent political developments around the world, we are by no means monochrome in our political commitments. Some of us love Leonard Cohen, others tend more towards Georg Philipp Telemann. We are extroverts, introverts and everything in between. Some play golf, others read obsessively. One or two even blog far too much.
But, yesterday, for all our differences, we gathered to give thanks for the power of love to work miracles. We were celebrating a group of people we call the St. Philip Refugee Committee. This fabulous group of people saw a genuine and heart-breaking human need; they opened their hearts and were moved by the power of love and compassion they discovered there.
Their willingness to open their hearts in response to a deep need in the world community empowered them to become instruments of compassion and agents of hope.
If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.(Luke 17:6)
The power of faith plucked a family of five from the tragic devastation of Syria and made it possible for them to be replanted in their new home in Canada.
As parts of the world teeter on the brink of building walls and rounding up those who appear different, it was a powerful experience yesterday to gather in gratitude with kind, gentle people whose primary desire is to reach out with love to a broken and hurting part of the world.
What I see in this great adventure upon which we embarked some 18 months ago, is that the news stories that preoccupy the popular media seldom tell the whole story. Quietly in the background of all the turmoil and pain that gets so much attention, there remains a vast movement of people willing to extend themselves in costly ways to support refugees and reach out to those whose lives are at risk.
At a time when much of the world seems uncertain about choosing gentleness and welcome, it is a rich gift to be part of a complex and diverse community that can gather to share the openness, respect, and warmth that is the core of Christian faith.
In one verse of one of the hauntingly beautiful Arabic songs with which Jordie and Habbous blessed our gathering yesterday, Habbous sang,
For you, our thanks.
For you, our love.
For you, our heart.
All of us, for you, my God.
Gratitude and love are the bloodstream coursing through the human heart. There is a tenderness and beauty that is our true nature, which may often be discounted or ignored in the grand schemes of nations and their rulers. But yesterday the power of that gentle energy was clear. The reality that in Christian tradition we call “God” was abundantly evident.
It is easy at times to miss the extraordinary beauty that resides at the heart of every human being. But, the more we attend to this gentle force of life, the more it grows and transforms the world in which we live.