We are still working on the logistics of Week 6 and when we get it sorted out, you'll be the first to know but for now ... we're on to week 7.
Since we've started this year of giving the kids have been great about finding other ways to give, looking for opportunities to bless other people and show kindness in their everyday life. I was pretty proud today when I heard Mischief tell his class that you can use your passion ("the thing that makes your heart excited") to help other people and when Crafty explained to me that she was trying to be a peacemaker at school by not calling a certain boy names even though he was really bugging her. I think the kids are starting to 'get it'.
This week the challenge is 'To be a Blessing!'
This week choose one person you can bless with an Act of Service. It has to be something you wouldn't normally do for someone you wouldn't normally bless. Be creative!
James 2:14 - 17
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
The challenge for week 7 happened to coincide with some things I was reading in the book of James in the New Testament of the Bible. As I read the words of this letter something stirred in my heart. Questions began to cycle through my mind and I didn't like all of the answers.
People like to think they're good, especially church going folks. We like to think we are kind to others, generous and forgiving but are we really? Or is that just our 'church face'? And those who don't attend church or ascribe to a certain faith aren't off the hook here. There are just as many non-churched folks who think they are 'good' people simply because they don't cheat or murder people on a regular basis. But is that criteria good enough?
Not for me.
I like to think I'm a generous, thoughtful person but I know that's not always the case. I'm always kind and good and generous to people I like and when its convenient. Sometimes I'm kind and generous to people I like when its inconvenient and to people I don't like when its convenient. I'm rarely kind or generous to people I don't like or know when its inconvenient. I say I am but really, I'm not. That's why reading this passage in James felt like a kick in the pants.
Basically, James is calling us on our flaky behaviour. He's reminding us its not enough to appear to be loving and connected if we aren't really. It's not good enough to wear a ribbon or a wristband in support of a cause if you don't really support the cause. Its not enough to make social justice your trend, its not enough. Its not enough for the people on the other end of your trendy cause, the ones with incurable diseases and no clean drinking water, and it shouldn't be enough for you.
In another passage, James compares words of faith without actions to back it up to a body without a spirit; just another corpse. I don't want to be a corpse. I don't want to say the right words without having the actions to back it up. So as I look at this week's challenge and all the challenges of this year I am trying to find tangible ways to connect my faith and my understanding of what is right to my life. I want to live better, to serve better, to love better.
Join us in putting actions to those intentions. Join us in bringing life to an old corpse, to making justice more than a trend. Join us is giving past convenience and being as good as we can be. For real.
Denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good.
― Philip Gourevitch