A Story of Random Acts of Kindness

Soothing balm for the headlines in the news these days comes to us courtesy of six teenage boys in Colorado.  Some of our Advent activities have been centered around random acts of kindness.  Fill your heart with the story found at this link   A Random Act of Snow Shoveling Link.

Colorado shoveling

Share your stories of random acts of kindness.  As we share our stories, we encourage each other and fill each other’s hearts with the joy of the love that enfolds us during the Advent season.

 

Advertisements

December 5, Day Seven of Week One – The Way of Peace though Hope

December 5, Day Seven of Week One – The Way of Peace though Hope

Luke 24: 45 – 53  “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

You raise me up 3

Song:  “You Raise Me Up”

You raise me up

Reflection:  “When I am down and, oh, my soul, so weary.  When troubles come and my heart burdened be.  Then I am still and wait here in the silence, until you come and sit awhile with me.”  Do we?  When troubles come do we first try the human fix-it approach, operating on our own, relying on our limited wisdom to solve a problem?   How can we learn to let our first response to be still until God comes to us?  Is it impatience or a short faith that takes us to busyness first instead of quiet contemplation and prayer?  I found myself in the hospital for 10 days while I was writing this.  Pain had overtaken my existence.  My days and nights revolved around managing the pain and results of the pain medication.  The second night I was there, I startled awake to an unfamiliar room and found myself filled with anxiety, a highly unusual state for me.  As I laid there in the dark, I puzzled through what could be the cause.   For an hour, I turned it over and over, as the anxiety hovered.  Was it the medication, the unknown diagnosis or treatment, the simple fact this illness was interfering with a lot of life?  Exhausted, a blinding flash of the obvious occurred.  This wasn’t mine to solve.  As I leaned back onto a slim hospital pillow, in a darkened room that glowed with medical equipment numbers, I silenced my thoughts, and started, “Hey, God.”

Action:  Consider the weary and burdened times you’ve experienced in the past.  How did you react?   Write these down.  Was God a part of your reactions?  Then consider how you could react to future troubled times with a stronger faith.  Write these down as well.  What steps do you need to take to build your faith so that God is on speed dial in your heart?  Yep, you’re writing that down as well.  All will be well.

Dear God, thank you for never leaving our side, even when we forget you’re there.  Help us to make you our first response in all things, for we know we are strong when we are on your shoulders.  Give us the wisdom to ask for your help and quiet hearts to listen for your whispers so you can raise us up.  Clothe us in the humility that helps us remember we can’t do this alone.  Listening, listening, listening, Amen.

December 4, Day Six of Week One – The Way of Peace though Hope

Luke 24: 36 – 40   “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”   They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”   When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.

Peace 3

We are Called   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luTgw96ZREA

Come live in the light 2

ReflectionWhat if we greeted people with, “Peace be with you,” instead of hello or goodbye?  What exactly would we be saying?  It is saying I wish you God’s peace, a peace that Jesus told the disciples was not just peace as the world gives.  It is more, much more.  It says I want you to be more than calm and tranquil because life’s realities are not always artful or gentle.  It says I wish you a peace that comes from God’s heart that will allow you to face the chaos, darkness and grief as well as the sweeter moments with resilience and hope.  It says I wish you a peace that brings you a calm strength when life’s harshest and warmest winds swirl around you, a depth of understanding and patience that brings out the grace in you no matter life’s twists and turns.   Isn’t that what you really wanted to say?

Action:  Choose three people today to say, “Peace be with you.”  It might be uncomfortable, but all good things start out challenging.  As you say the words, think of what you mean.  Let the meaning float through the air with your words.  You may get quizzical looks and you can choose whether to explain.  If saying it out loud is something that is completely uncomfortable, leave anonymous notes of “Peace be with you, “for three people. Peace be with you today.

Dear God, thank you for your peace, as it travels us through tough and treasured times.  Help us to remember to lean back into your peace and act with your grace and forego our human egotistical temptations.  Encourage our hearts to reach out to others and share your peace.  Remind us to not doubt that it is always within reach.  With peace, Amen.

December 3, Day Five of Week One – The Way of Peace though Hope

Luke 24: 30 – 32   “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 

God as one of us

What if God was One of Us?  Song Link

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to His face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

REFRAIN:  Yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home

If God had a face
What would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like Heaven and Jesus and the Saints
And all the Prophets  REFRAIN

Back up to Heaven all alone
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope maybe in Rome  REFRAIN

Reflection:  Imagine sitting at a table with a stranger who has walked and talked with you for seven miles.  Just another guy journeying somewhere.  Sharing his stories, listening to yours.  Making note of things along the way, a flower garden, children playing, women carrying water to their home.  Sitting under a tree filled with fruit, resting in its shade and nourishment.  You invite him to stay the night.  At the supper meal, he breaks the bread and you see that this other regular guy, is Jesus.  Before you can ask a question, he is gone.  Astonished, the meal pauses.  An instant later, everyone starts talking at once.  What if God was one of us? 

Action:  Today, treat everyone as though they may be Jesus, cloaked in everydayness.  Even those that irritate, and the grumbly and the smelly.  As evening falls, review your day.  How has it changed you?

Dear God, let us see others through your eyes.  Bathe us in humility so our hearts are wide open to all your people. Our arrogance, built on worldly things, blinds us, fills us with self importance.   Change us, shake us and wake us to Your world.  Change us, shake us and wake us to Your world.  Change us, shake us and wake us to Your world.  Crashing through ourselves, Amen.

December 2, Day Four of Week One – The Way of Peace though Hope

Luke 24: 28 – 29   “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

Hospitality 5.pngDo You Have Room?  Song link

They journeyed far, a weary pair,
They sought for shelter From the cold night air.
Some place where she Could lay her head,
Where she could give Her Babe a quiet bed.
Was there no room? No corner there?
In all the town a spot someone could spare?
Was there no soul Come to their aid?
A stable bare was where the family stayed.

REFRAIN:  Do you have room For the Savior?,
And do you seek Him anew?
Have you a place for the One who lived and died for you?
Are you as humble as a Shepherd Boy,
Or as Wise as Men of Old?
Would you have come that night?
Would you have sought the light?
Do you have room?

A star arose, a glorious light
It was God’s sign this was the Holy Night
And yet so few would go to see
the babe who came to rescue you and me.
This child divine is now a King
His gift of life to all the world He brings
And all the world He saves from doom
But on this night for Him there was no room  REFRAIN

Reflection:  Here, as his time on earth is ending and he is known only as a stranger, he is invited to stay with the two he had been journeying with.  So different than his first night on earth when no one had room for his parents.  I don’t think this juxtaposition is an accident.  Jesus, who preached humility, hospitality and inclusion is offered shelter and a meal, not because he is Jesus but because he is someone who needs shelter and a meal.  A quiet lesson on hospitality slipped into the ascension story.  Hospitality starts with humility.  It is not offered because I have more than you and am willing to share.  It is offered because this is how we live when we follow Jesus’ example.  Hospitality isn’t contained to shelter.  Hospitality is being a welcoming spirit throughout our days.  Hospitality is recognizing that no matter how much we have, we have no more than any other in God’s eyes.  All are equal, the haves and the have nots as defined in earthly ways.  When we offer hospitality, we are opening the door to our heart so another can enter and rest in safety.  Humble hospitality is a sure way of peace.

Action:  Today, show hospitality to all you meet.  Hold a door open and say hello.  Let a car or two merge in front of you.  Let someone else go first.  Speak to a stranger in an elevator, on the sidewalk, waiting in line at the grocery store.  Go to our community meal and sit by a stranger as an equal in God’s eyes.  Share your story and listen to theirs.  Let your heart burst with the kindness and humility of hospitality.

Dear God, make us angels of hospitality.  Transform our heart so that hospitality is how we walk this life.  Open our hearts as we open doors.  Fill us with your inclusionary breath as we love one another.  Take away our fear of the unknown and replace it with the courage to learn more about your people.  Show us the richness in reaching out to others and reaching in ourselves.    With open arms, Amen.

December 1, Day Three of Week One – The Way of Peace though Hope


Luke 24: 17 – 19  
“He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”  They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”  “What things?” he asked.  “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.”

We don't have wifi

Count on Me   Song Link

If you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of the sea, I’ll sail the world to find you.

If you ever find yourself lost in the dark and you can’t see, I’ll be the light to guide you

We find out what we’re made of, When we are called to help our friends in need

REFRAIN:  You can count on me like 1, 2, 3, I’ll be there.  And I know when I need it, I can count on you like 4, 3, 2, and you’ll be there.  ‘Cause that’s what friends are supposed to do, oh yeah.

If you’re tossin’ and you’re turnin’ and you just can’t fall asleep, I’ll sing a song beside you.

And if you ever forget how much you really mean to me, Every day I will remind you.

We find out what we’re made of, When we are called to help our friends in need.  REFRAIN

You’ll always have my shoulder when you cry, I’ll never let go, never say goodbye.  You know… REFRAIN


Reflection: 
In these days of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the long list of other social media, I can’t help but smile at Cleopas’ question of Jesus.  “Are you the only one who doesn’t know?” is asked as though our social media existed in Jesus’ time.  Their social communication methods were person to person.  No postal service, no internet, no television, no cell phone.  One person speaking to another.  There’s something plaintively inviting about that sort of communication.  Face to face and in this case, walking a long dusty road.

Our suburban world removes the necessity of walking to get somewhere.  Our modern world technology negates the need to speak to someone at all to communicate.  I love the technology that is available to us, that lets me communicate with family and friends scattered across the world in an instant.  It has allowed me to strengthen relationships with people I care about that are distanced from me, to know them in a more intimate way than I possibly could any other way.  But people need human touch, human conversation.  I value my hours long dinners with friends where we can talk over all that matters and doesn’t.  I hold gently the front porch talks I have had with friends and my family with the sun setting on our words and the stars hanging out with our thoughts.   We laugh together, cry together, hope together and we are each other’s peace.  They remain some of my most cherished moments.

Action:  Today, talk to someone that matters to you.  Face to face.  Go beyond the easy conversations.  Start with the weather, if you must.  You’re a Minnesotan, after all.  Then, share something of your heart.  Notice their eyes as they speak.  Reach out and touch their hand or clap at something they say.  Laugh at their stories.  Cry with their tears.  Let your soul touch theirs.  Create a moment that your heart will keep tight.  Find out what you’re made of.

Dear God, thank you for the stories that challenge us to step away from our comfortable spaces and to walk your peace into our lives.  Make our hearts fearless today.  Stuff us with courage to speak our heart to someone who matters.  Rejoice with us in its finish, as we collect the memory and put it in our pocket for safekeeping.  With courage, Amen.

Random Acts of Kindness Tree

Family Corner Idea for Week One of Advent

Random Acts of Kindness TreeTo emphasize bringing peace through hope, create a Random Acts of Kindness Tree.  Hope brings peace through our sharing of kindness.  Kindness, especially unexpectedly, brings hope to our hearts.

It can be a branch from a tree, a small artificial tree, a tree cut from construction paper and put on a window or a door.  Your children’s imaginations may have other ideas.  The key is you need something that represents a tree.

Each day this week, encourage each member of the family, no matter how young, to perform random acts of kindness.  A random act of kindness can be many things.  Some suggestions are:

  • Holding the door open for people
  • Let others go in front of you when you’re in line
  • Pay for the next person’s order
  • Draw a picture and leave it secretly for someone else
  • Shovel the snow for someone

On the first Sunday of Advent, sit down together as a family and create your tree.  Talk about all different kinds of random kindness.  Consider when someone unexpectedly did something kind for you.  How did you feel?

There are some websites that have many ideas about random acts of kindness individuals and families can do.  Some websites are:

Each evening, have members of the family share the random acts of kindness they did that day.  Write them down on paper ornaments and hang on the tree.  Talk about how it made you feel.  Also, talk about random acts of kindness that were done for you.  How did that make you feel?  What difference did it make in your day?

On Saturday evening, look at the Random Acts of Kindness Tree and talk about what was learned about sharing hope through kindness.  Ask if everyone wants to keep doing random acts of kindness.  Celebrate with a favorite dessert or treat.  Watch the movie Pay It Forward (may not be suitable for small children as it has some sad moments – think Bambi).