2nd Saturday in Lent
You are not to kill.
What is this? Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.
This commandment is violated not only when we do evil, but also when we have the opportunity to do good to our neighbors and to prevent, protect, and save them from suffering bodily harm or injury, but fail to do so. If you send a naked person away when you could clothe him, you have let him freeze to death. If you see anyone who is suffering from hunger and do not feed her, you have let her starve. Likewise, if you see anyone who is innocently condemned or in similar peril and do not save him although you have means and ways to do so, you have killed him. It will be of no help for you to use the excuse that you did not assist their deaths by word or deed, for you have withheld you love form them and robbed them of the kindness by means of which their lives might have been saved.
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another had fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-11
SILENCE FOR MEDITATION
The greatest work I’ve ever done in my life was making a group of kids smile. I know, it sounds unoriginal and cliché. Regardless, to this day, I’ve never had to toil so hard for something I couldn’t keep; for something I couldn’t show to others; for something that has no market value, but managed to enrich my life immensely.
An hour’s drive south from the bustling capital of Botswana, lies the scorched, fragile contours of a village called, Otse. And though my body lies over the ocean, my heart is lodged, firmly at Camphill; a community for disabled children hidden at the center of the village. Most of the children here are orphans; most have lost parents to the HIV/AIDS pandemic; some were cast off for having a disability or being mentally challenged; few get dropped off for month-long sojourns by working parents trying to eke out a living in the city. One was left at the gate, a stone’s throw from home; her parents unable to live with the stigma of raising a child that’s not, well, normal.
This is where I found Jesus.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks. Everyone now knows the routine. We take the kids out on a walk through the village; those that can walk to do so, and those confined to wheelchairs are pushed along the dirt roads, lifted over sandy patches and brought back safely. One day whilst kids were resting under the tree, taking respite from the strong sun. I asked the other student if they knew any traditional tales that we could recite for the kids. They looked at me like they had no idea what I was talking about, so I asked them to gather the kids join in when they feel the urge.
A long, long time ago when stones were still soft and animals could talk… (By the way, my stories always begin the same way.) From this one line; a sea of mouths became one; a mob of ideas united; different worlds fused together, even the sun and moon sat side-by-side for a moment, to observe a peculiar friendship between a crocodile and a monkey. To me, stories like these are the best part of my childhood. They are the most valuable, intimate and safest recesses of my heart. And seeing a child I know to have linguistic difficulties clapping, and another forcing a smile from face permanently frozen in a scowl, is a miracle.
Genesis 1:27 “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” So how do we not see God standing beside them? Right there, next to the tree, bearing the brunt of our sultry sins so we might have a place under the cool shade. Being a Christian is hard. Being Christ-like is hard. Acting Christian is really hard. I have hope that just as the villagers slowly warmed to their neighbors, we too will welcome God into our midst regardless of image.
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride
And for the world to know we are Christians, by our love.
Put a coin in your bank for each item you can fix rather than throw away.