Many years ago, when churches began to reorganize, based on the depletion of resources affecting it and many other organizations, I heard these words; “When the watering hole shrinks, the animals look at each other differently”.
Over the few decades that have passed, those words have been requoted, by me often. It is hard work to downsize, it is difficult to tighten our belts, and learning to do more with less, is the order of the day. If metaphorically we see ourselves as the animals, it might also be helpful to think about how we see each another. The phrase “charity begins at home” is spoken every time a community engages in assisting the “other”. Questions like who pays for our church buildings, who feeds the hungry who already live here, who ensures that veterans get the support they need, all come to the surface. And we look at each other differently.
Its nothing new. The gospels are full of examples of people expressing concern about the “right” ones being helped, and the “right” people are often the ones who look like us, talk like us and think like us. Before long, an “us and them” mentality is created. Adults talk about it and children learn from them, and divisions never imagined in the realm of God begin to appear. Somehow, it is easy to fixate on those negative aspects of community, rather than seeing the many hundreds of people whose lives are being challenged, who understanding is being broadened and who suddenly have their eyes opened.
Those closest to Jesus rarely understood what he was trying to teach them. Maybe they were too close, or perhaps they began to take for granted the fact that they were already in Jesus’ area of concern. Then someone like Bartimaeus comes from the crowd, knowing Jesus will heal him, and his eyes are opened. Every one who has read the story since also has had their eyes opened. Suddenly the world looks different. The problems on the home front seem not nearly as significant as the problems many other people in many other countries are facing. When our eyes are opened, our hearts are too. We look at each other differently.
According to the UNHCR, we are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.
An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.
For Canada to be involved even minimally in refugee resettlement is a no-brainer. When the people of Pictou County get involved, we begin to look at each other differently, in the best sense of the word. A faith for today is best reflected in the ways our eyes are opened to the needs of others, home and abroad. Surely we have enough resources for both.
Rev. Donna Tourneur ministers among the people of Trinity United Church in New Glasgow