James 3:17-18 – Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour. (MSG)
Early last fall, we were blessed to be able to take the proverbial "once-in-a-lifetime" trip to Eastern Europe. Our first twelve days were on one of those bus tours that we said we'd never take "because it's only for old people". Of course it wasn't only for old people, and it was fabulous. The last four days were with my husband's relatives in Slovakia, all of whom I'd not ever met (save for one uncle), and most of whom spoke no English. It was a very moving experience.
As an option on the bus tour, we chose to visit the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps.
The silent, sacred solemnity seeps into one's very soul. The piles and piles of personal belongings, having long ago been separated, were each housed in a glassed-in portion along the walls. Shoes. Hairbrushes. Tools. Hair. Suitcases.
Each item was a solemn statement of its own, but somehow the suitcases silently shouted the beginning of their biggest betrayal. The owners had been told to put their names on their suitcases and leave them so that they'd be able to identify them when they got to their destination.
Their faith and trust in what they were told stood out so starkly in the big, bold letters written or printed on the upper side of their suitcases.
We were told that the sorting houses had been named "Canada" because it denoted freedom, prosperity, and peace, and so those who were told they were going to "Canada" went with blind faith, full of anticipation.
To see this is perhaps as difficult as it was for some to see "The Passion of the Christ". It's real. It happened. And although we say we cannot let it happen again, it is happening in many parts of the world right now.
In our personal lives, we can write our names on the luggage for our spiritual journey in big, bold letters, by living our lives in a holy manner as described in today's Scripture. We must all work hard at "getting along with each other and by treating each other with dignity and honour".
Prayer: O good and gracious God, be with us as we strive to understand and respect each other in our life's journey. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.