A Word from our Family and Young Adult Minister 2014 August

Rev. Naomi is on renewal leave. This month’s article is by Minister Chai.

Dear Friends,
The theme of the recent Jr. high camp that I have attended with a couple of our children, Kira Laidley and Leah Yamauchi, was “imPERFECT.”

Based on the life of Peter, with whom many of us could identify ourselves, the group of counselors and children have explored the theme. Starting from the “humble beginnings” of Peter’s life, we have gone through different phases of his life and understood how God had used him, despite his imperfections. Time and again the children were reminded that they shouldn’t feel that they are not good enough, or that they should prove themselves to be loved. Instead, they were taught that God loves them with perfect love, no matter how imperfect they think they are. That was a great reminder not only for the children, but also for all the counsellors and adult staff that were there.

“Imperfect,” understood as a state of being, does seem to present accurately the state of our lives. Acknowledging that we are imperfect means that we cannot boast of our superiority over other persons or beings, despite being created in the image of God. Similarly, such acknowledgement brings our limitations to the forefront, while emphasizing the need for someone greater than ourselves to make us whole, say God, or even something greater than ourselves, like a community. Furthermore, if we understand our state of imperfection as transitory, then we can consider our lives to be on a journey towards perfection.
In that light, one might be reminded of one of Jesus’ sayings: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But what does it mean to be perfect? How do we measure perfection in our lives? Do we achieve perfection in this life or afterlife? These are tough questions to ponder upon. I don’t think I can satisfactorily answer these questions either. Therefore, I would rather take clues from Marcus Borg and maintain that the wording of Luke of the same saying – “Be compassionate as God is compassionate” (Luke 6:36) – is preferred to Matthew’s wording. It is because Luke’s rendition helps us understand the implications of the saying better. Borg, in his Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, maintains that compassion is understood by Jesus as the central quality of God and the central moral quality of a life centered in God. Compassion, he goes on to say, based on his study of the word in the Hebrew Bible, “means feeling the feelings of somebody in a visceral way, at a level somewhere below the level of the head.” Furthermore, it is not just feeling the pain or suffering of somebody as such, but it is being moved by that pain or suffering to do something about it. In his discussion, Borg drives home the point that “to be compassionate” is what is meant by the New Testament command “to love.” So, the saying “Be compassionate as God is compassionate,” means to act out of love for others, while sharing in their pain and suffering, just as God did for us.

That is exactly what we did at the Sierra Service Project. Luke Williams and I (unfortunately Garrett Hill was unable to go because of a fever) went to Walker River, NV to act out of love for God and for the Native American communities that are in the area. With an attitude of respect and humility we have served the community along with forty other youths and fifteen adult counsellors. Though it was only a week of service, we were immensely satisfied with all the work that has been done, and more importantly, our faith (in God and also in humanity) was strengthened. I sincerely thank you for your prayers, and for the love that you have showed us through your generous financial scholarships/contributions and care packages.
— Chai