Monday, May 31, 2010

Sermon for May 30 - What is Compassion?

In a nutshell, the willingness to feel someone else's pain. Yeah, OK, how many of us are willing to do that? Hell, I don't want to feel my own pain much less someone else's. This of course bodes ill for the world. With so much pain to go around, how do we go about alleviating it through means that are not chemical or iPhonic related? With so much pain to go around, is it any wonder that most of us are addicted to something like alcohol or nicotine or just about anything that allows us to escape that pain?


Does the willingness to feel someone else's pain actually help that person? And here the good reverend insisted on a hard and resounding YES! On the condition that said willingness go beyond mere words. "Oh, I feel your pain!" and "You must be going through hell!" just aren't going to cut it. Words are cheap. The only real words are actions. Compassion has to be able to transform suffering. At the same time, we have to take responsibility for our own lives, respecting the lives we've been given.

How are you going to be an agent of life and love to someone this week?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tonight's Sermon - What is Essential?

Tonight I went to the evening service, which I actually prefer because the night air seems to calm everyone down and there's a sing-along before the service starts. No one has to rush off to some afternoon dim sum thingy and most everyone stays for coffee and chit chat upstairs.

What is essential to life? What do we need? What do we need to make us happy? I guess someone has to ask these questions because they're certainly not being asked in school and work and the political spheres which only take up nearly 100% of our living lives. Why is it that these questions aren't being asked in the places where we spend most of our waking hours? That in itself is a telling state of our society. What the good Reverend was saying tonight is that the answer changes based on our situation. True, that. I remember 6 years ago when I first found out that I was HIV+ that all I needed was to know that I wasn't going to be dead in 2 years time. Once I got that answer, then I needed a job. Then I needed a job that would actually not drive me crazy. Then I needed my Dad to not be sick. Then I needed my friend to get better. With our "needs" changing all the time, it's no wonder we're all kind of a little cuckoo and so hard for others to read.

All we need is the grace of God, knowing that we're loved and that we're forgiven for being less than the perfect creatures we are. The problem is that most of us couldn't care less about some distant God and simply want to be loved and forgiven by the people we're surrounded by. Loved by our friends. Family. Boss. Colleagues. Forgiven by these very same people for all the silly and serious mistakes we make. So the challenge tonight was to be an individual who can love and forgive. And if we could all do that, then maybe earth could be a kind of heaven. What we really need is the capacity to be this kind of person. This is what we should pray for. This is what we should try to achieve. To have a godly spirit that knows how to love and forgive.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sermon for May 2 - Loving Others

It's been months since I've posted an entry, and for good reason--I realized I don't have much to say anymore. It's been more than six years since I found out about my status and I think I am very lucky to still be alive and where I am. The biggest change in my life is that I have started going to church again. It's a congregation of predominantly gay individuals who have decided that they're not going to let their sexuality come in the way of a relationship with a Divine Being. Sure it's hard to square what the Bible says about being gay with being a Christian, but the Bible also mentions that it's perfectly OK to have slaves, too. We'll ask God the hard questions when we get to heaven.

Today's sermon was about loving those people we just can't stand. Lord knows there are a couple of people like that in everyone's life. The minister challenged us today to make a conscious decision to care about someone like that. More often than not, what prevents us from loving someone is that we spend too much time being infatuated with our own selves that we can't see anyone else. Like the beautiful boy Narcissus from Greek mythology, we fail to hear others, too caught up in our own images. Like the nymph Echo who loved Narcissus, we're unable to express what we really feel. Love is not about mushy feelings, but about believing in the potential of someone else. That got me thinking as to the last time I tried to believe in someone other than me. It's apparent I need to start trying a lot harder.