A Certain Kindness

Thanks to Matt Fitzgerald, for his meditation on the very brief Scripture verse, “Do good, O Lord, for those who are good.”

The United Church of Christ Daily Devotional Matt wrote is posted at the end of these thoughts. It reminds me of the cruelty that often existed in the daily life of the Junior High School many of us attended years back. I’ve noticed in young people of that age today a certain kindness and sensitivity that we did not possess. I know this has been encouraged and taught. And, I also know that very many of the young teens I encounter today are very kind, very loving, very accepting.

I dropped my grandson Solomon off at school a few days ago. He complained a little about the car in front of us being slow in dropping off the student on board. When he saw who was being dropped off he said, “Oh. Never mind.” His classmate in front of us was a person with a mobility disability. The child’s dad removed a tuba from the back of the car and set it onto the sidewalk. The young man began to struggle as he pushed and pulled his tuba toward the back door of the school. Almost immediately another student came along, picked up the tuba and carried it to the door as they walked together, both looking very happy, into school. Yeah. That’s what I saw.

Thank God for parents and teachers who have learned that the most important lessons to be learned in school don’t necessarily revolve around subjects taught like math, English, history and Science. Thank God for students who open their hearts to others in a much more accepting way than we ever did when we were in Junior High School.

Imperfect Love  by Matt Fitzgerald
“Do good, O Lord, to those who are good.” – Psalm 125

“Pray for your enemies.” Only God knows what such prayer might do for those people, but if you’ve tried it, you know that Jesus’ prayer kills the enmity that lives inside your own heart. It may be the closest we ever get to being Christ-like. As Kierkegaard says, “Perfect love means to love the one through whom one became unhappy.”

But such prayer is agony. It kills us. So Psalm 125 brings relief. It issues no challenge, just asks God to be good to those who are good. I love this. Christianity doesn’t need constant effort. Sometimes it is easy. Pray for those who are good.

I live across the street from a middle school. At recess the tweens separate themselves into castes and cliques. They are too old to play. They act cool. Except for one girl who wears unfashionable long skirts and runs across the playground, bursting into one group after another. She suffers from some disability. It’s obvious. Yet each time she runs into the middle of a group—the Goth kids, the gossips, the athletes, the introverts—they all make room for her. They give her a pound or a shoulder hug. They smile. She smiles. Then she turns to run toward some other group.

I think back to the cruelty of my adolescence and I am simply amazed at the goodness on display.

Oh God, give goodness to that good child who refuses the boundaries of adolescence. And pour goodness over all those good children who see her with eyes of love. And give more goodness to the parents who have shaped them. And rain goodness down on our world as it changes for the better. Amen.

Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.


One thought on “A Certain Kindness”

  1. This is a wonderful look at our time through the eye’s of ministers. There must be something wrong with the news portrayed on TV and printed in ink and online. Thanks for sharing what our portion of the world is growing into.

    Liked by 1 person

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