Kindness, by Pastor Calvin
Kindness?! At a moment like this who has time for kindness?!
We’re living in a time of scarcity; often real and sometimes perceived. Our medical workers are truly running low on personal protective equipment while the perceived scarcity of toilet paper has caused panic buying unseen in any of our lifetimes. When there are feelings of scarcity, we also easily become fearful or defensive and question why we should love others or care for them… or whether we are even able to.
The root of perceived scarcity, of course, is fear.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19
“Love is at the root of everything—all learning, all relationships—love, or the lack of it.” Fred “Mister” Rogers
Many of us have experienced scarcity, fear, hurt, or lack of love in our lives for one reason or another. Some may carry deep pain because of this. For some, our first instinct is to protect ourselves by either shutting down or lashing out. Others seek distraction or escape or control.
Kindness is care and concern for others. It is hospitality and generosity. It is forgiveness and peacemaking. It proceeds from a place of abundance and love rather than scarcity and fear.
Jesus is our Good Shepherd, given to us, caring for us, showing kindness to us. We know love, we know abundance, and we know kindness. In fact, as believers we know and have experienced the ultimate act of kindness and self-sacrifice.
No wonder “love” and “kindness” are so tied together in the Old Testament concept of hesed. One of the places in Scripture clearly illustrating this is Psalm 23, last week’s lectionary Psalm. “I shall not want” or “I lack nothing” because we know that “surely goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life.” “Mercy” in this verse is hesed or loving-kindness. The psalmist is so certain of God’s kindness toward him. Even in adversity, in scarcity…the psalmist’s valley of darkness.
And what about us?
Here we are in a bit of valley, in an uncertain time. Surely we can trust, as the psalmist does, that God will provide for our needs….There’s no scarcity when it comes to God’s loving kindness.
What does this mean for us?
Perhaps this time of anxiety and uncertainty also gives some of us an opportunity to slow down and grow in awareness. To slow down and breathe and pray. To have silence and solitude. And for all of us it means being more in touch with how vulnerable, powerless, and mortal we are. How little control we truly have. This is an opportunity to know God more deeply; to know our reliance and God’s abundance more intimately. To receive God’s love and kindness with greater awareness. To meditate on God’s Word and enjoy God’s presence.
We can also see the love and kindness around us: healthcare workers, grocery staff, and delivery personnel bravely going to work and serving us every day. Donation drives; people torn between supporting local businesses and services for the vulnerable while also desiring to honor public health recommendations and social distancing goals. And we can give thanks to God for the ways we are encouraged and sustained.
Reflection and Discussion Questions:
1. How are you seeing feelings of scarcity or fear around us? How are you experiencing them? How have you experienced feelings of scarcity or fear in other ways in your life?
2. How have you experienced an abundance of love or kindness from God or from others during this time or at other times in your life?
3. How can we/you shift from a mentality of scarcity to a mentality of abundance? How can we/you experience God’s love and kindness in the coming weeks and also share it?