by Rev. Eric Folkerth

At our “Get to Know You” gathering Saturday evening, a member of the church shared that the thing that breaks their heart about the world a lack of empathy.

I said, “You’re in luck…the message for the week is about Compassion.”

We are living in deeply narcissistic times. Far too many of our leaders lead from their narcissism than from their desire to love and serve humanity.

Even worse, those of us in helping professions —teachers, counselors, ministers, and other public servants— feel as if our compassion wanes the more we reach out to serve the world.

As I mentioned on Sunday, we’ve got to show both self-compassion (to ourselves) and other-compassion (to the world). Jesus’ actions around the “Feeding of the 5,000” express this polarity well. He both meets human need with genuine compassion, and he also sends everyone away to spend some time alone.

When we show ourselves compassion —by eating well, exercising, seeing friends and engaging in renewing hobbies— we find our compassion for others expands. Far too many of us say terrible things to ourselves inside our own heads. We say terrible things to ourselves that we would never say to another human being.

This is not being compassionate toward ourselves. And if we don’t do that, we can’t really show compassion for others.

As you heard me say Sunday, this great Biblical word in the picture is the word for compassion. It means to experience a visceral and physical feeling of love, empathy, connection…with others. It’s felt in the *gut,* not just the head.

In a compassionless age, God needs us to practice outward and inward compassion. So that we might be lights of compassion to a world in desperate need of empathy and hope.