I live in a rural middle class village. That's not to say there are no poorer areas, there are of course, but mostly it's an affluent village. Many residents commute to the city, on the more rural fringes are some very large houses with lots of land & a few even have helicopter pads!
And I love living here. There is a real sense of community, a lovely village school and an even better pub ;)
The thing I find frustrating is that there are people here, who in the most part want for nothing, they have good salaries (more than good), wives do not have to work, they have horses and land and hunter wellies... ;) But along with that comes a level of judgement. Now I do not wish to be judging them in saying this, because then I come down to that level, I just am trying to paint a picture. That it seems in a large part, (thankfully, there are exceptions to this of course) that the more well off people are, the more those people comment on those around them. Or even the more they ignore the needs of those around them, becoming self absorbed with ones own life. Please don't hear me condmening them for that, we all have times in our lives when things overtake us, but I would just love to see compassion being the first thing that affects peoples judgement of others.
For some time I have felt called to people worse off than myself, broken people, those in pain, or suffering, but I just don't know where to start. I have friends who run various projects in a nearby city and could very easily offer to go and help them. But at the same time, whilst our village may not have heroin addicts on every corner, or high numbers of homeless, there are still those in need, and I feel the need to start here.
Just last night in prayer, I felt God reminding me of this, and then this morning I looked in my daily prayer book (given to me by my Nan) and this line stood out from todays prayer:
....that I may help the succourless and comfort the comfortless, Oh my dear Lord, pardon me for the neglect of this duty and make me to redeem the time....
So my prayer for this year is that God will use me to reach those in need in my neighbourhood, that compassion and kindness will be the underlying sentiments in all those who live and work here.
I read this from Robb @changingworship this morning, via the Big Bible Project. Great story of the church showing compassion to one in need. Well worth a read!
I had a brief online 'chat' with Robb this morning and that old fave from St Francis of Assisi was mentioned:
Preach the Gospel at all times, use words if necessary.
Might be a cliche, but how true it is. As Christians we are all called to represent Christ and that doesn't just mean in word. Robb said this morning: 'Many tell the world it is wrong without offering a good model for how it can be right' and how right he is. It's all very well me noting the judgemental attitudes in this place but what am I offering in its place? What is needed is a catalyst to enable compassion and kindess to overcome the negativity.
and that catalyst is Jesus.
So where I start is by being Jesus to those around me.