Rev. Martha Jacobs
Even the Smallest Acts…
Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18, Matthew 10:40-42
July 2, 2017
According to Jesus, there is no small act – there is no small gesture when you do something for someone else. When you take a moment to reach out to someone, even just to cross the sanctuary to greet them, that is no small act. When we acknowledge someone’s pain or someone’s triumph, that is no small gesture.
When I was doing my chaplaincy training, I wanted to “do” for people in the hospital – I wanted to try to help fix something for them. The more I tried to fix things, the less helpful I was, because I was not really doing what I was called to do, which was to sit with the person or their family members and listen to them, to hold their hand, to pray with them. I thought I needed to do more, when in reality, the less I did and the more I spent time with people, the more connected I felt to them and to God.
Realizing that even just looking them in the eyes when talking with them, made a huge difference for them, because I was treating them like fellow human beings. I was not treating them like someone who, because of their illness or what was going on in their life, was objectified – was made to feel like their situation or their illness defined them rather than the fact that they were another human being.
Most times, a touch, or a smile or even just sitting beside them, was all that was needed. Sometimes words, sometimes prayers were offered, but sometimes nothing was even said. The human to human connection was what they needed and being reminded that God had not forgotten or forsaken them.
The reading we heard today is at the end of Jesus’ long discourse on the disciples going out to tell people about this God who is present and walks with us throughout our lives and expects us to treat each other with respect and dignity. He ends by telling them that even someone who offers them a cup of cold water, is going to receive God’s rewards. The simple basic acts of kindness that we do in genuine welcome or care of one another is all that God asks of us.
So, this morning, I would like to ask you to think back on this past week. Did you experience someone doing something for you that made you feel good – made you feel seen, heard, appreciated? Was there some small act that someone did for you that you are willing to share?
This past week, I have had so many emails, calls and people coming by to talk about their sadness around Barbara Offenhartz’s death. The outpouring of love and connection has been deeply touching.
“What can I do?” has been the follow-up question. My response has been – send a card, an email, call if you are close to Colin. I have sensed that some people have been a bit disappointed by my suggestions. Why? Because we want to do more. We want to help Colin and Ryan and Caitlin in their pain. We want to support them. Can we take away their pain? No. Can we take away the loss of a wife, a mother, a friend? No. But, what we can do is connect. We can, with small acts of kindness, show we care, that we are keeping them in our prayers.
On Friday, Colin mentioned to me that he had received calls, emails and cards from people and that he appreciated them so much. To us it may not feel like enough, but right now, for Colin, it is enough. Through our connecting to him in a tangible way, we are offering him a cup of cold water in the desert and darkness of grief and loss. And, God tells us, through this reading, that that it is enough.
Dear ones, there is no small gesture. Through your cups of cold water, hugs, helping hands, and listening ears you are caring for the world God loves so much. And hearing about and often witnessing what you do for others is one of the reasons I love serving with you.
As we come to our communion table today, we do so with the assurance that the love that we offer to others, through our simple caring gestures, is all that God expects of us, because they come from our hearts. This table represents God’s heart – a heart that loves us so much that God was willing to sacrifice a part of Godself for us.