Week of Compassion is the relief, refugee, and sustainable development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. For nearly 80 years, Week of Compassion has pursued its mission, working with partners to alleviate suffering throughout the world, with a vision of a world where God’s people transform suffering into hope.
Hope and transformation, alleviation and relief— things that have been sorely lacking in our nations and world these last few years. Our neighbors, our churches, our families, our own individual spirits, still carry the fatigue of a global pandemic that saw millions of deaths and continues to be of wearying concern. International conflicts and a global climate crisis seem too huge to grasp and leave us feeling helpless, while local communities sag under the strain of bitter politics, pervasive violence, and economic challenge. In the midst of all this?
Week of Compassion says ‘RISE UP ANEW’?! HOW?!
As people of faith, as followers on the Way, who proclaim the centrality of a welcome table and the power of an empty tomb, yes, somehow we still say ‘Rise Up Anew’.
We come to this intersection of history, carrying the weight of our concerns. In the language of worship and the church, it’s called lament. We sit in our lament, and we wait for what’s next. In the Hebrew Scriptures, an entire book of wisdom – Lamentations – shows us this has always been true. Alongside many other scriptures where people tell of their heartbreak, worry, pain, and suffering, Lamentations reflects where we find ourselves right now … fatigued, stumbling, uncertain.
AND the writer says that somehow, still, God is with us.
3:21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
:23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (NRSVUE)
God’s mercies are new every morning. To many of us, a simple reminder, perhaps even a glimmer of breath, new life, and hope.
When unseasonable winter tornadoes struck western Kentucky, relief funds came immediately and volunteers would later follow, preparing for the long-term recovery. Less than a year later, when torrential downpours brought devastating flooding to already hard-hit eastern Kentucky and Missouri, a special gift quickly arrived – from a church who had received tornado assistance and volunteers just months before. Whether in domestic disaster response in familiar communities, refugee response in the aftermath of wars, or ecumenical partnership that supports shelter, food, education, and livelihoods – Week of Compassion is witness to the truth that God’s mercies RISE UP ANEW each day.
And yet we also know that for many people in the world, every morning still means struggle. Every morning still means worry. Every morning still means disease, fear, and lament that will not end.
In another translation, there is an insightful turn of phrase: Yet it is because I remember all this that I have hope. YHWH’s favor is not exhausted, nor has God’s compassion failed. They rise up anew each morning, so great is God’s faithfulness. (The Inclusive Bible)
We are exhausted. God never is. We are fatigued. God’s compassion never fails. We know everything that has led us here. And because of that we hope. And we RISE UP ANEW each morning.
We do. Because God does.
So we recommit to the work of hope—borne out of suffering, and uncertainty, it is hope just the same. God’s compassion has not failed. Week of Compassion is committed to that great faithfulness, too.