Last week at church, we talked about mourning with a focus on refugees. No matter where we stand on the political spectrum, we can agree that our world situation, with so many people fleeing from all sorts of terror, gives us plenty of opportunity to mourn.
Jesus promises us that we will be comforted. For those of us sitting on the sofa, waiting for comfort to come--may I suggest that we take a more active approach?
Now is a good time in the life of our nation to become more involved politically--it's always a good time. We could call or e-mail our senators and representatives to let them know how we'd like them to vote and what kind of nation we want to see. The process should work this way. It's a representative democracy, after all.
But we might sink into more despair if this action is the only one that we take. We may have legislators who will do whatever they want, regardless of their constituents. We may feel that we call and call and call, and nothing happens.
Maybe we need something more immediate. I thought of this when my college roommate saved the Campbell's soup labels on cans that I was going to recycle. She told me that I could take them to my public library, and they could get free books that way. I had never thought of that.
I don't use canned soup often, but I do occasionally use them when I need chicken or beef stock. What a great idea to save the labels.
We could do the same with box tops, which come on many products and local schools can trade for stuff. I mail mine to my sister, who collects them for my nephew's elementary school. But at the time that she no longer collects them, I could still donate them to a local school. Look around the chancel and see who has small children and ask them if they want your box tops.
What are some other actions that we can do that will take a small amount of time but bring some good into the world? Let me list some:
--For those of us who want to get more involved in refugee issues, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service offers ideas, like letter writing to those detained or a visitation program or a way to donate money. Go here for more details: www.lirs.org.
--When we go grocery shopping, we could pick up some items for the food pantry.
--When we go to a big box store, like Target or Wal-Mart, we could buy a package of socks for the homeless.
--Don't forget about the power of money. We can write a check to national or local groups that are working for the changes we want to see in the world. Even small checks are better than no checks. Lutheran World Relief does an amazing amount of good work with not much money.
--Does your employer match your charitable giving?
--Don't forget about our own church which does an amazing amount of community work on a very small budget.
--Bring some treats to the local office of your favorite non-profit or charity. Raise the spirits of the people who are usually working long hours for low pay.
--Read to children. At first this action might not seem simple as many groups now require a background check. But once you're done with that, you might find joy in sharing stories with children.
--Buy children's books and give them to elementary schools and libraries. Support programs that support summer reading.
--Don't forget about the importance of self-care and care of those around you. You cannot keep giving and giving and not replenish yourself. What would make you happy? Do those things.
As we begin these activities, we may continue to feel bogged down in despair; we may wonder when comfort will come. But through the months, as we knit ourselves more securely into our communities by our actions, we are much more likely to find the comfort that Jesus promises.