Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Compassionate God"

I Kings 17:17-24,  Psalm 146,  Galatians 1:11-24,  Luke 7:11-17

June 6, 2010

by James Greene

 

           The title of today’s sermon is Compassionate God.  The common theme of the four readings is the compassion of God.  They demonstrate to us one of the qualities of God’s character: that of Compassion.  It reveals God’s tender heart not only for the Chosen People of Israel but also, for all people in his creation.  In our readings we see the Compassionate God, of the marginal, the alien, the widow, and the orphan.

 

Definition of Compassion –

       Compassion - broken down is  com (with) pati (to suffer).  It means to suffer with. 

It is a quality of life we live with everyone.

Jay Litvin - summation

           Compassion is in strong feeling, with enthusiasm and being fully present with someone no matter the circumstances of their life.  It suspends judgment and takes each circumstance equally; it encompasses all.  It has no preconceptions, no attitudes, no special face or tone of voice.  It is not bound by rules of behavior, decorum, or expectations.  Compassion does not turn away.   It comes from the position, in which, all things are from God’s Hand, and has full acceptance of each circumstance in life.  Compassion is not constrained by rules, but recognizing the uniqueness of each instant and each person. Compassion is prepared to yield to whatever happens next, always with the other in mind. Compassion is God’s greeting with kindness and grace, to be a companion in whatever circumstance.

           The qualities of Compassion are Divine and it is because, it is our reflection of The One, in whose image, we are created. Compassion is God’s hidden presence only noticeable, if you have the eyes to see each person as Child of God.

 

           In I Kings, we see Elijah who has been sent (by God) to the widowed woman in Zarephath  (a small town between Tyre and Sidon in the middle of Phonecia).  This is during a time of famine in the land.  The widow in taking care of  Elijah in spite of her desperate circumstances where her and her son are preparing their last meal.  Even as she cares for the prophet, her son dies.  This leaves her hopeless, and without anyone to grow up and care for her.  We see the compassion of God for her through the prayer of Elijah.  He prays to a personal God, “O Lord, My God, let this boy’s life return to him!”  Her circumstances have touched the tender heart of God, and that has moved Elijah to action.  Her son is given back to her, by being raised from the dead.  It is something that touches all of us, in the deepest longing of our hearts to see a child being given back to its mother.  It is that compassion within our character that resonates with that of our Creator.

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           In Psalm 146, we see a God of action, and a God who cares.  Who calls us to action: to not put trust in princes, or mortal men, because when they die, all of their work and plans come to nothing.  It calls us to remember that blessed are they whose help is God, whose hope is in God, and who’s God is faithful.  It is The Lord who watches over the alien, just as Elijah was an alien in the middle of Phonecia.  The Lord sustains the fatherless and the widow, reflects His compassion for the alien just as he did with Elijah’s caring for the widow who lost her son.

As people of God, in our spirit, we praise God, we thank God, we trust in God, and we hope in God who watches over all people: even the alien, the widow, and the orphan.

 

In Galatians we see how Paul, in his conversion experience, understood God’s heart for not only the Jews (his people) but also for the gentiles who God also has compassion on as a part of His creation.  Just as Elijah experienced the widow’s compassion and kindness, when he was sent to the Phonecian gentiles.  It was for the glory of God.

 

In the reading from Luke, we see a mirror image of the miracle in I Kings, where Jesus raises a dead son for a widow in the small town of Nain south and east of Nazareth.  This miracle however, takes place in the midst of the Hebrews in Judea.  Jesus’ heart goes out to the widow, in her loss.  He demonstrates the heart of a compassionate God.  He shows us the deep reality that God truly cares for us in our circumstance in life.  He touches the bier, and Jesus (The Word) sends forth the word, and says “I say to you, get up!”  Jesus does not turn away from the crowd of mourners.  He goes to them in his humanity and his caring.  The sight of a widow, in the loss of her son, moves him, like Elijah, to action.  Jesus, in his action, and in his compassion, glorifies God, and God is praised by his people. 

 

We, as the people of God, are called to live into the Word.  We are called to reflect the tender heart of God like Jesus, and Elijah.  We are called not to turn away, but to action.  Just as Christ suffered for our salvation, we are called to compassion,

to suffer with.  We are called into relationship, to be part of God’s hand to those suffering around us.   We are to reflect the character of The One, in whose image, we are created.  We are called to reflect the Compassionate character of God in our lives, through our lives, and to do it all, to the glory of God….

 

           In the Name of    the Father,   the Son,   and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

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