I have a confession. My hope is that it won’t be too
much for you. That you won’t think any differently
of me. Okay, here it goes:
I love Jesus.
No, like, I really love Jesus. Not in some
sentimental or superficial “Jesus is my homeboy and
my personal Lord and savior.” Nothing like that
because that makes Jesus mine when Jesus is actually
In fact, despite what some think, Presbyterians
confess Christ as sovereign of all! Personally, I
confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. But I love Jesus
because of his compassion.
The compassion he has for others and his compassion
for me is unlike anything I’ve ever heard or even
seen. I love Jesus because he Jesus sees me for who
I am: Adam.
Did you know compassion comes from the Latin word
compassio, meaning “to pity, sympathize with, or
suffer with,” and is related to the Greek word
sympatheia, denoting “fellow feeling, community of
feeling?” Quite literally, ‘compassion’ means to
endure with another person, to experience another’s
grief or suffering or need.
Which leads me to another confession: I love the
I love it because the church is the body of Christ,
a place where we share life with one another. In a
season of great difficulty for me, you all offered
me great compassion, sitting with me as an
unexpected ending came and went. You all, not only
in this occasion, but on numerous occasions
throughout the years, have extended compassion to
This is what Jesus meant when he said to “love your
neighbor.” He meant that we have compassion for one
another, especially the stranger and our enemy.
Remember that Jesus summed up his own teaching on
compassion, the practice of ‘withness,’ by
proclaiming that whatever was done to the poor, the
marginalized, or the outcast was, in reality, done
Lent invites us to look again at the world and to
see how with it we are.
For me, Lent is a reminder of how Jesus’ compassion
overflowed outside his tribe. He did not let his
love, his mercy, or his withness be confined only to
James, John, Peter, and the other twelve. Instead,
he considered all he encountered to be his neighbor.
Compassion is hard, though. Not only does it
require us to see the world through more gentle,
loving lenses, but it is about caring for one
And this is why I love Jesus. He loved. He didn’t
only teach or preach or use words to tell of God’s
love. But he actually loved those he shared life
with. Especially those he wasn't supposed to be
The hard truth Lent often confronts us with as we
wander into the wilderness and wade out of the
waters of baptism is that sometimes, we as a church,
both locally and universally, neglect loving our
neighbor as ourselves. We lack compassion for
ourselves and for one another.
Yet Lent is also the season we remember that Christ
sees us with eyes full of compassion. That what we
are examining within ourselves, what we are
confronting outside of ourselves, Christ is with us
every step of the way.
Compassion then is best understood when we play
together, when we eat together, when we share our
stories, and when we act on behalf of each other.
These are the things we human beings do when we are
at our best and our most courageous; especially when
we recognize that God is right here with us, our
partner in renewing this journey we call faith!
As we sit and watch the snow fall, remember that
God’s love, Christ’s compassion, and the Holy
Spirit’s company is with us this day and every day.
May God help us let go of that which prevents us
from being compassionate to the world and to
Jesus loves you. And so do I. Shalom,
[Adam Quinn, pastor of First Presbyterian Church