Where does compassion start[i]? we ask. How far should it extend? We hear the age-old injunction to care about and for others, including the “wand’rer to our gate” or traveller to our borders. We hold in the Light our decision-makers faced with the tough choices, for our immediate wellbeing and our welfare into the future.
We give thanks for our comparative wellbeing and safety here in Aotearoa, where dedicated leaders and clear communication encourage us to be kind as well as safe, and to care for each other as members of a nationwide community. We hold in our hearts those whose loved ones have died from COVID-19, and those badly affected by isolation or by loss of income.
We think of the millions of people—including friends and family members—overseas, in places where fear and confusion continue; where public health care is inadequate; where the messages they hear are contradictory; and their hope for the future is on hold.
We think of the people of Hawke’s Bay, and especially those from the 100 or more Napier homes that are uninhabitable due to flooding.
We think of the Afghani people and the tragedies they’ll be re-living, as Australian soldiers’ war crimes are investigated; and we hold in love and healing the soldiers whose lives and emotional wellbeing have been ruined by witnessing their fellow troopers’ behaviour in a situation they couldn’t escape.
As 2020’s Week of Transgender Awareness draws to a close, we think especially trans folx facing discrimination in flatting situations; the almost one in five trans and non-binary New Zealanders who have been the invisible homeless: sleeping on friends’ couches, in bus stops and parks, going home occasionally until they’re kicked out again.
We hold in our hearts all those struggling with misunderstanding, rejection and abuse for being the way they are; the way they were created; for transitioning into the whole and beautiful selves they’re meant to be.
As our thoughts turn to Advent, we recall Matthew’s story of foreign visitors bearing gifts, and of Jesus’ Jewish followers imagining the unthinkable—God’s grace extending to the outsiders, the gentiles. We give thanks that the table is open to all, and the Loving Spirit exists within and beyond the human boundaries of race, class, nationality, ethnicity, religious devotion, and gender[ii]. We give thanks for a Love that cannot be contained by labels or limited by beliefs, and that welcomes every person and calls them “beloved”.
[i] Hymn lyrics © 2009 Shirley Erena Murray
[ii] Barbara Marian, quoted in https://spiritandfaithwords.com/liturgy-resources/reflections-aka-sermons/memory-and-mystery-an-epiphany-reflection/