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Bank Street Unitarian Chapel

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Reflections

Minister’s Letter

April's Theme: Compassion

In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Jesus of Nazareth

As we approach the festival of Easter we know that many Christians are thinking about the death and resurrection of Jesus. This story is often re-enacted in passion plays. There's not a passion play in Bolton this year as there has been in some previous years, but there is going to be one in Manchester. I have mixed feelings about these kinds of things. To be honest I find them to be a bit gruesome. And as a Unitarian my faith is not rooted in the passion of Jesus. Rather what's more important is the compassion of Jesus.

Passion means pain/suffering and com-passion means being alongside another in their suffering. Compassion is feeling the pain of another and reaching out to alleviate that pain. Jesus put this at the heart of his teaching and explained what it meant by telling a story of someone beaten up at the side of the road. One passing person, a Samaritan, felt compassion, and reached out a helping hand. "Go, and do likewise," says Jesus.

The death of three-year old Alan Kurdi, the tiny body washed up a Turkish beach in 2015 made us all feel that com-passion, that pain striking into our hearts. The refugee crisis continues today, still demanding our compassion, our feeling-with, and our acting-with. One way we can stop this happening again is giving to our Lent charity, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station in Malta, who have already rescued 30,000 people from the Mediterranean. They continue to operate search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. This is one small way we continue to follow the way of compassion.

In peace and love,

Stephen

 

Theme Resources

Book (non-fiction): Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong. Taking as a starting point the teachings of the major world religions Karen Armstrong demonstrates in twelve practical steps how we can bring compassion into our lives.

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