Comfort - Monday Musing, May 16, 2022
Comfort. We are in a festal season in the liturgical year called Eastertide in which we continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But my thoughts today are pulling me back to Advent. More specifically, the Advent hymn, “Comfort, Comfort You My People” (#122 in our Chalice Hymnal). The word comfort is defined as easing or alleviating a person’s feelings of grief or distress, which fits the theme of the scriptural texts read during Advent. But I have been thinking about comfort from the perspective of contented well-being, a life of ease.
The weather this past weekend has thrown us into that odd spring season. One minute it is chilly, so we dress in long sleeves and jackets, turning on the heat. The next minute it is warm, so we shed jackets and long shirts, turning on our air conditioning. We seek the comfort of warmth when we are cold, and we seek the comfort of coolness when we are hot. And this time of year both can happen on the same day!
If we are honest with ourselves, we do not like to be uncomfortable. Whatever our ill, trouble, or pain, we seek relief and comfort. When we consider the discomfort of others, though, we recognize that we are blessed in our positions of privilege. It is an uncomfortable reality that the events outside our sphere of control include: war in Ukraine; homelessness; suicide; and mental illness. We should be comfortable talking about these serious topics, yet sadly many of us are not.
Yesterday in worship, I reminded us that we are all ministers; our ministry is not exclusive to my work alone. All of us are connected to this ministry because of our own sense of connection and passion to the work that we do collectively. And as a community of faith, we are called to provide comfort as best as we are able within our reach. In the past month, our congregation made a generous contribution to our wider-church partners who are doing hands-on ministry with Ukrainian refugees; recent Mission Moments in worship brought us speakers from Habitat for Humanity and the Housing Assistance Corporation, speaking about homelessness and housing needs, which we have supported; Sharing Kindness highlighted suicide awareness, which we have also supported; and our WISE Mental Health Ministry Team had a panel discussion as part of Mental Health Awareness month.
In her book, Freeing Jesus, Diana Butler Bass talks about Memoir Theology: “understanding the nature of God through the text of our own lives and taking seriously how we have encountered Jesus.” And given the uncomfortable topics of the day, we “comfort those who sit in darkness, bowed beneath oppression’s load.” Through our ministry of presence, prayers, advocacy, and financial gifts, we are serving as the hands and feet of the living God. So shed your jacket or put on a sweater; turn up the heat or air conditioning, as a church we proclaim, “all flesh shall see the token that God’s word is never broken.” See you in church!