“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does… In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
(Matthew 5:43-44, 48, The Message)

Extra Grace Required – every single day! Lately, it seems I am being asked to offer extra grace to angry, stressed out, and anxious people all the time. And that includes myself. Jesus knew that we would be dealing with difficult people – that is why he offers these words to all of his followers, then and now. Each morning, I try to remember to pray to hold generous assumptions of other people. I know that these are difficult days and most people are doing the best that they know how to do – even thought I do not understand them. The isolation, fear, financial stress, and negative information is having an effect on all of us. I need to be reminded of that when I listen to or read the latest news reports or when I find myself judging other people’s behaviors around the COVID pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s normal to hold opinions of others, it is when it devolves into viewing others with contempt that I have become less than my God-created self. I have to fight to keep from scorn as I view others who do not see the world as I do. I was reminded of the great Quaker leader, George Fox’s words: “Walk joyfully on the earth and respond to that of God in every human being.” It takes spiritual commitment to try to see the light of God in everyone around us. Sometimes for me, that is tough to do. However, that is especially good advice when I am dealing with the difficult people in my life these days.

Rev. Dr. Deb Kaiser-Cross
Minister for Congregational Care

For those people who may require extra grace from me today:
Wonderful Counselor, we ask that you help us with the relationships in our lives that can be challenging. When we find ourselves bombarded by criticism or engaging in it ourselves, when we find ourselves judged or engaging in that ourselves, remind us of your grace and lead us to see others in the light of your love. Teach us when to speak with gentle conviction and when to let go in gracious acceptance. Remind us that at times you use even those who are difficult to teach us significant truths about ourselves. Teach us to be still, Lord, that we may truly hear what is beneath other’s words, and through them, perhaps to hear your voice of compassion, as we try to walk in the ways of Jesus. Amen.