Thursday, January 13, 2022

Unianimiter | Togetherness

"Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people..." —Acts 2:46-47 (NASB) 

Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

Reflecting on the beautiful historical accounts by St. Luke, a trained physician, showing the generosity of the early believers who shared all they have, and there was no one in need. A drastic contrast to the rich modern churches in our affluent societies, where busy church goers often walk past the homeless along the sidewalks, turning a blind eye or averting their eyes to ignore what their hearts were pleading with them, ie, to reach out in love to the poor and lonely. It reminded me that my possessions are entrusted to me as a good steward of God's gifts in my life to those who are vulnerable and displaced because of the economic upheavals caused by the covid-19 pandemic. Many are suffering presently from countless losses, whether in jobs, in health or loss of loved ones to the dreaded virus.

How can I as part of Christ's Body on earth use my possessions to bless those around me? How can I be Jesus' mouthpiece to a hurting world? How can I reduce my personal expenditure so that I can be more charitable with my income? I remember growing up in a crowded 1-room rental flat with little possessions, there were 6 of us (including 2 adults) packed into a space less than 36 sq m. However, I retain fond memories of those years, because neighbours were very friendly with one another, and doors were always opened to us children to play and hang out with the neighbours' kids. The whole neighbourhood was our playground.

I contrast those sweet memories with more recent ones where I lived in a 5-room flat, and my immediate neighbours would close their doors the moment they heard us at our front doors. It seemed to me that as Singapore made strides in economic progress, with bigger disposable incomes and bigger living spaces, our hearts have become narrower where many feel alienated and dis-connected within their own neighbourhoods. I do miss the simpler days from my childhood, where mobile phones nor internet existed but people made efforts to connect with one another, be it in sharing of living spaces, food or even helping to look out for those who were in a financial hardships.

Maybe this humanitarian crisis allowed by the Almighty God to pass through our lives in this historical moment as a wake-up call to humanity, to view each other as one common human race, that we need all the more to look out for the least and the lost among us. Because they too are someone's grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister. When a part of this God-given family is hurting, the family hurts too.

May we individually as a people of God, open our hearts and lives to those who have fallen through the cracks in life and extend a hand in compassion and love to those who have fallen behind. This is how collectively; we will emerge stronger and wiser as one human race through this humanitarian crisis…
I will close with this poem: 

When the Storm Passes – by Alexis Valdés
When the storm passes
and the roads are tamed,
and we are the survivors
of a collective shipwreck.

With a weeping heart
and a blessed destiny
we will feel happy
just for being alive.

And we will hug
the first stranger
and praise the luck
of not having lost a friend.

And then we'll remember
everything we lost
And all at once we will learn
all we had not learned before

We will no longer be envious
because we have all suffered
We will no longer be lazy
And will be more compassionate

What belongs to all will be worth more
than that never achieved
We will be more generous
and much more committed 

We will understand how fragile
it means to be alive.
We will sweat empathy
for who is and who has left.

We will miss the old man
asking for a dollar in the market
we didn't know his name
although he was next to us

And perhaps the poor old man
was your God in disguise.
You never asked for his name
because you were in a hurry.

And everything will be a miracle
And everything will be legacy.
And life will be respected,
the life we have won.

When the storm passes
I ask God, full of sadness
to return us to be better
as he had dreamed we would be.

Translation of Alexis Valdés  poem "Esperanza" (Hope) written in Spanish in March 2020 about the humanitarian crisis brought by the Coronavirus and the "hope" of how we will feel when the "Storm Passes" ("Cuando pase la tormenta"  -  Esperanza).

(Alexis Valdés is a Cuban composer, singer, musician and poet residing in Miami. Translated by CP.)

Reflection on Acts 2:41-47 by Chris Tan

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