THE POWER OF LOVING “STRANGERS”


On July 31, I  was up early – trying to find out if our political leaders had reached an agreement on the budget in Washington, D.C. when it dawned on me that the United States teeters on the brink of default for  one simple reason – that has nothing to do with economics. It has to do with  our selfish inability to love one another. Now I know that sounds like a cliché  – like something too corny or unsophisticated to deal with the national debt ceiling – but if we were all able to incorporate this simplistic approach to  everything that we do, we would have a lot less problems.

Many of us – in this country – have an  ingrained disdain for helping one another. We don’t want to pay more taxes, and  don’t want the rich to pay any – and God forbid we actually fund programs that  help those who can’t pay for health care, education and food.

The New York Times not only reports that luxury items like $1000 shoes and $9000 coats are being sold out but also that the “number of children living in poverty has increased by four million since 2000, and the number of children who fell into poverty between 2008 and 2009 was the largest single-year  increase ever recorded.” We refuse to help the people that we know – and  we most certainly fail to help those we don’t know: those who don’t look like us or speak the same language or live in the same communities or  appear to be “strangers”.

I helped someone recently who put this widening gap into perspective. He was shocked. Oh, he was happy to get the help  but I could tell that he didn’t quite know how to process it. Should he be  doing something for me?   Did I want something in return? There’s a problem when we think that people only give because they expect something in return. There’s a problem when we get on the train or walk down the street – and we see someone with a cup or a hat out for a handout and we know that we won’t miss a few  coins but we still find ourselves judging them and condemning them so that we won’t have to part with it?

I know people who won’t even give their parents – the people who gave birth to them and clothed them and fed them and  educated them – a gift.

I know that many of us would prefer to give a Bar or a Club $50 or a few hundred dollars than to give it to our churches – you know to the folks who pray for us, witness for us, and lift us when we need support.

We would rather go to the Hamptons or to a social event event rather than help our family members in need.

But we blame our economy on our congressmen, our President – our public officials –  when they are just a reflection of where we are in consciousness.

Oh, it’s easy to blame the tea partiers – the good ole Americans for Tax Reform, that have succeeded in getting  Republicans and even a few Democrats to sign a pledge not to vote for a net tax increase under any circumstances.

It’s easy to blame ExxonMobil, which made $19 billion in profits in 2009 and not only paid no federal income taxes but  received a $156 million rebate from the IRS.

It’s easy to blame Bank of America, which received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS even though it made $4.4  billion in profits.

It’s easy to blame General Electric, which made $26 billion in profits in the United States and received a $4.1 billion refund.

It’s easy to blame Chevron, Boeing, Valero EnergyGoldman Sachs, Citigroup, ConocoPhillips, and even the Carnival Cruise Lines – which made billions in profits, but received tax benefits.

It’s easy to blame the Republican party generally – who  wants financial chaos, who wants the  government to collapse and the country to fail, who cares nothing about anyone but themselves and their power.  It’s easy to blame the Obama administration who has never brought those accountable for the country’s greed and misdeeds to task.

It’s easy to blame him for chronic unemployment.  After all, some would say he shares the values of and surrounds himself with the elitist rather than the hard core grass roots folk.

But have we looked at ourselves?  Have we examined whether we love our brothers and our sisters unconditionally – and powerfully enough to share our manna with a stranger – even when it looks like we won’t have enough manna for ourselves.

First Peter, Chapter 4, Verse 7-9 says:  The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of  sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Peter says: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Judgment Day is here because Judgment Day is everyday; each day we are held accountable for our acts – and each day we reap the consequences.

The economy reflects our consciousness.  We are in political turmoil and economic despair because we are selfish – because we are not exercising our capacity to love one another.

Last week, we talked about the power of love in general – the power of love in smoothing our relationships, in pushing us past obstacles, in taking us to the next step – but how about love for each other.

That’s really where it starts.

We are all one.  There really is no separation.  As long as you suffer, I suffer.  As long as you sit in darkness, there is a part of me in darkness too.  As long as the least of us wallows in poverty and despair, the rest of us will feel it too.

We cannot balance our budget, raise the debt ceiling, pay our bills, create jobs, give adequate health care to everyone, educate all of our children, restore lost homes and prevent our citizens from losing the roofs over their heads because we are selfish – and that is inherent in our consciousness, that pervades our minds and stimulates our souls – and that backward thinking is what is holding us back as a country and a people.

We don’t even realize that we are one people – regardless of our skin color and our hair texture and our culture and our religion and our economic status – we are one.

Bob Marley sang “One love, one heart –  let’s get together and feel alright!”

God told the Prophet Zechariah (Chapter 7:9) “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.”

If you do God says, I will scatter you to the wind.

If you do, you will find yourselves torn away from the absolute good that is here for you.

In the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 13, Verse 2, Paul cautions us about how we treat other people – about our tendency to marginalize and disregard people other than ourselves.  He says no matter what — “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown
hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

When we love others, we love ourselves.

Our love for others is but a figment of our imagination – we put up the false walls of separation.

But when our brother or our sister needs, it is us asking to be blessed.

What we give we receive.

I’m not talking about being stupid or being used or being taken advantage of – God gives us the discernment to see through those who mean us no good.

In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches what the power of loving others really means.  He said: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave  me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and  give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

This is not only our country’s test, it is our own.  We stand at the threshold of not a political awakening but a spiritual awakening  of love – because without love we cannot progress.  We cannot build our  infra-structure on anything less than love; we cannot clean our waters; we cannot heal our bodies; we cannot feed our minds; we expand our territories to live up to its great potential beyond the status quo.

Open your heart today.

Be compassionate to one another.

Recreate the same love in you that was in Jesus Christ.

Without love you cannot see the manna on your own path – the wealth of Spirit all around you.

God said I will give you what you need to survive each day during your struggle – not to hoard but to be mindful of each other, but to be loving toward each other because that is the only way you’ll feel alright.

Namaste,

Reverend Cecilia Loving

About SPIRITMUV: Spiritmuv® is a trans-denominational church, which means that it transcends the confines of religion and teaches unconditional love for one another regardless of race, creed, culture, or religion.   At the heart of its teachings is what Jesus taught — that we love one another, as well as the community that Mahatma Gandhi inspired when he said, “I am a Christian and a Muslim and a Hindu and a Jew.”

Reverend Cecilia Loving is the founder and creator of Spiritmuv, which was formed in 2007.
Services are held for an hour every Sunday, from 2:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. at the Unity Center of NYC, located at 213 West 58th Street.

Rev. Loving’s new book is now available God is Brown Girl Too, as well as Prayers for Those Standing in the Edge of Greatness.

Copyright 2011 by Cecilia Loving.

None of the content herein may be copied or otherwise used except with Reverend Loving’s
written permission.

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