come as you are

Aahhhh!! Last day of vacation, and it is BEAUTIFUL! Perfect weather for Pappy doing the Meech Lake Triathalon again, too–assuming it’s the same in Ottawa.

Let’s see if the Called to Come Alongside notes can be finished off today. First though, I came across a couple of verses in my reading this morning that “jumped out” at me, even though I’ve read them umpteen times before. The first one is because this summer’s book club is doing “Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear”. In Exodus, the people were so fearful at Mt. Sinai when God spoke, that they asked Moses to do the talking instead…

“Don’t be afraid,” Moses said, “for God has come in this way to show you his awesome power. From now on, let your fear of him keep you from sinning!” (Exodus 20:20) Isn’t that funny how he says “Don’t be afraid”, and then says “let your fear of him…”? It’s like he’s saying “Don’t be afraid, but be afraid”! Then in the next verse there’s something neat that I never noticed before, that rather goes with these recent notes about suffering: “As the people stood in the distance, Moses entered into the deep darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:21) Look at that again–where was God? In the “deep darkness”!!

Now, some more quotes from the articles Chris gave us, about being with (“coming alongside”) people in their suffering.

“Why is this a healing ministry?… because it does not take away the loneliness and the pain of another, but invites him to recognize his loneliness on a level where it can be shared… a shared pain is no longer paralyzing but mobilizing.”

“In (Romans 12:15) we are admonished to ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.’ It doesn’t say, ‘Cheer up those who weep’ or ‘Tell those weepers they shouldn’t cry.’ Rather we are to… sit with those in pain, put an arm around their shoulder, and wait with them awhile. We are not told to take over and cure their pain or fear or loneliness, nor to save them from their feelings. Rather, our quiet and unobtrusive presence, compassion, and understanding can be channels for the Spirit of God to be at work. Instead of busily giving advice, finding solutions, moralizing, or rescuing, we are asked to listen, hear, be with, accept the person as is, even with the hurt or confusion of the moment.”

One of the last handouts I have, talks about the difference between a social visit and a pastoral visit. Basically, one is more personal and centred on the other, accepting tension areas and helping them discover meaning, etc. Finally (yes–finally!), there a couple of notes about responding to the other: trying to cheer him up can be a form of discounting him and not taking him serioiusly; respond, rather than react–rather than meeting the other’s feelings with your feelings. You can do this by being aware of your own feelings. If they are sharing conflict, “to agree or disagree is not the issue, but to help the other become aware of his conflict within.”

Done! Now to read them all over and put them to practise!

Walk to Rivendell:  We are forced north out of our way.


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