I must confess I have not read a lot of the older devotional material from centuries past. I have worked my way through Thomas a Kempis and certainly a good deal of John Wesley, but beyond them I have only picked up snippets here and there of the older saints. I recently discovered however a gem in a devotional I have used on and off over the years entitled, “Prayers For Ministers and Other Servants.” This devotional provides several readings from a wide variety of authors along with a pattern for worship. The piece that struck me is from a book entitled “The Captivating Presence” by Albert Edward Day. I want to share it with you this week in hopes that it touches you as it did me.
“I came to a new understanding why Jesus passed up the religious establishment of his day, the economically secure, the socially prestigious, and sought out the poor, the outcast, the sinner, the broken, the sick, the lonely. He felt, as we so often do not feel, their sorrow. He was acquainted, as we too seldom are, with their grief. On Calvary he died of a broken heart. But that heart was broken long before Good Friday, by the desolation of the Common people. “In all their afflictions he was afflicted.” Most of the time we are not. We seem to have quite a different conception of life. We avoid as much as possible the unpleasant. We shun the suffering of others. We shrink from any burdens except those which life itself inescapably thrusts upon us. We seek arduously the wealth and power that will enable us to secure ourselves against the possibility of being involved with another’s affliction. Lazarus sometimes makes his way to our door step. We toss him a coin and go on our way. We give to our charities. But we do not give ourselves. We build our charitable institutions, but we do not build ourselves into other’s lives.”
As I read these words I found them describing all too well my failure to care as Jesus cared, my failure to see as Jesus saw. I found myself struck by how easy it is for me, in the “busyness of life” to pass by and ignore the burdens of others.
As we anticipate our Thanksgiving celebrations this week. As we share together in our feasting and the warmth of our homes. Let us not forget those for whom such times only serve as reminders of what they do not have. Let us give thanks not only with our prayers, but with our lives as well.