Thursday, August 13, 2015

Love and encouragement

This week my friend Kathryn talked about The Work We Have To Do.  We humans can look at work as something we have to do, like holding a job, or cleaning the house, or something we get to do, something we enjoy or find meaningful. 

All of us need work.  All of us need to feel that our lives have meaning.  And we have work, whether we know it or not.  It may not be paid work.  It may not be recognized by the world as work.  But it is work, nonetheless. 

Kathryn spoke of her father at the end of his days.  Like some of us, he had been busy all his life.  He had painted the church, built cabinets, volunteered his time and energy in so many ways.  Now his body was betraying him and he asked his pastor, What can I do? 

You can give encouraging words, his pastor replied.  Thats something we can all do.  It takes little time, little energy.  But it takes sincerity, and an open heart. 

The story reminded me of a woman I read about, a woman who hugs.  What a great job, I thought.  People stand in line for hours to receive a hug from her.  I tracked her down.  Her name is Mata Amritanandamayi; she is known also as Amma.  In her life, so far, she has hugged and given comfort to more than 20 million people - yes, million.  I first read about her in this news report.

Her gift is to give love unconditionally to everyone who asks for it.  She hugs each visitor for a full minute, telling them that they are loved.  As far as I can determine, she doesnt do it in the name of any religion, but she absolutely radiates the love of God.  She is an encourager on a grand scale. 
Billy Deters of the UM Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries, with his typical smile of encouragement.
A smile of encouragement from Billy Deters, member of the UM Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries
Our Christian faith has always been one of encouragement.  The Book of Acts talks about the Levite Joseph, renamed Barnabas, son of encouragement for his generosity and devotion.  Paul uses the word encourage eighteen times in his letters, urging the communities of faith to be strong during times of trouble.  We can all be encouragers.  "It takes no energy to love," Amma says. "It is easy.

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11

We thank you, O God, that no matter how small and infirm we might feel, there is always work we get to do for you.  We can always be encouragers.  We can always give good words, a smile, a hug.  The spirit which sustains us is always ready to be shared with others.  For this we are grateful.  Amen.

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