Lenten Reflections

Use your blessings to bless someone else

When we see others in shining in an area of ministry, it is easy to say, “I can’t do that.  I don’t have their skills.”  And we are probably right.  We can’t all do the same things.  That is why God created the Christian community—the Body of Christ—because we need to depend on each other in order to learn, grow, and care for others.
The Zulus have an expression which describes our interconnectedness and reliance upon each other as a community.  The expression is “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu”, which means that a person is a person through other persons.  The South African Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes Ubuntu as:
It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.

It sounds a lot like 1 Corinthians 12:

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:
  • apostles
  • prophets
  • teachers
  • miracle workers
  • healers
  • helpers
  • organizers
  • those who pray in tongues

But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.
—1 Corinthians 12:25-31 (Message)

Certainly not all of us are preachers.  Amazingly, though, God has a way to use each of our skills, interests, talents and gifts.  Prayer, time, a love of reading or knitting, an abundance of fabric or furniture, money, a skill—all can be used to honor God and lift up others in our community.   Here are some local ways to volunteer and share our talents:

Work your wonders

Liberator, Redeemer, Emancipator
(The terms roll easily off our lips.)
For your power that notices,
your passion that descends,
your freedom that liberates.
We thank you.
We hold in your presence all those bondaged,
in fear and despair,
in poverty and weariness,
in crime, war, and violence,
in narcissism and self-indulgence.
Work your wonders among us,
in your strength like war,
in your gentleness like nursing,
in your abiding love like forever.
Work your wonders,
we pray in the weak name of Jesus.  Amen.
—Walter Brueggemann, October 13, 1998, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth