On March 3 we will finish up the Enneagram sermon series which I hope has enriched your life and faith by getting you to know yourself and others better. Many thanks to all of you who have opened your heart and shared with me how God has spoken to you through this ministry. The following week we will begin the journey of Lent with the “Dare to Care” sermon series based on Joyce Rupp’s book Boundless Compassion. The invitation is for all of us to look deeply into our souls and to connect with the presence of God. Each of us is born with the potential for deep love, compassion, and connection. Yet, through hardships, misperceptions, and the process of growth, we lose our way to that fullness of being. We learn to judge, to violate, to hold grudges, and to protect ourselves from suffering. We learn to hide our personal suffering and avoid the suffering of others. Compassion is our way back to the path of life.
As we journey to Jerusalem with Jesus during the season of Lent, we are invited to get into the heart of his compassion and his way of love. Each week we will focus on one facet of compassion. We will be using the image of a tree. We will begin with the Ash Wednesday service using the image of the Christmas tree being transformed into the cross. Then we will reflect on Joyce Rupp’s “Tree of Compassion” with its roots (foundation for compassion), trunk (conduits of compassion), branches (reaching out with compassion), leaves (receptacles of compassion), and fruit (offering compassion). I will invite you each week to ponder what helps you to grow the tree of compassion in your life. Share images, stories, insights, or questions about compassion (roots, trunk, branches, leaves or fruit) with the rest of us during worship through physical items or your words. There will be a couple of trees in the church where you may share: One will be in the entryway of the parking lot and other one will be in the Chapel. For the first week, we will look at what helps us become aware of the suffering of others.
I pray that this holy season will open our lives more deeply to the transforming love and compassion of God.
Pastor Roula Alkhouri
Compassionate God, your generous presence
is always attuned to hurting ones.
Your listening ear is bent toward the cries of the wounded
Your heart of love fills with tears for the suffering.
Turn my inward eye to see that I am not alone.
I am a part of all of life.
Each one’s joy and sorrow is my joy and sorrow,
and mine is theirs.
May I draw strength from this inner communion.
May it daily recommit me to be a compassionate presence
for all who struggle with life’s pain. Amen.