Niceness is not kindness

In fact, “niceness” is often the enemy of kindness. “Nice” is often code for “avoiding conflict” or “passive-aggressive.” Now, speaking ill of others, or speaking in insulting, mean ways is always wrong. Civility is essential. But leaders cannot fail to name the issues simply to avoid embarrassment or hurt feelings. There are worse things than embarrassment, and it’s impossible to lead while obscuring the obstacles.

In the Church, especially, Love can carry us through the humiliation, through the pain, through the discomfort of opening addressing what we’d rather not talk about.

Collect for social justice from the Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, who created us in your own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

My favorite quote from Blessed Mother Teresa

Today we remember Mother Teresa. She said:

Jesus is the Word – to be spoken.

Jesus is the Truth – to be told.

Jesus is the Way – to be walked.

Jesus is the Light – to be lit.

Jesus is the Life – to be lived.

Jesus is the Love – to be loved.

Jesus is the Joy – to be shared.

Jesus is the Sacrifice – to be offered.

Jesus is the Peace – to be given.

Jesus is the Bread of Life – to be eaten.

Jesus is the Hungry – to be fed.

Jesus is the Thirsty – to be satiated.

Jesus is the Naked – to be clothed.

Jesus is the Homeless – to be taken in.

Jesus is the Sick – to be healed.

Jesus is the Lonely – to be loved.

Jesus is the Unwanted – to be wanted.

Jesus is the Leper – to wash his wounds.

Jesus is the Beggar – to give him a smile.

Jesus is the Drunkard – to listen to him.

Jesus is the Retarded – to protect him.

Jesus is the Little One – to embrace him.

Jesus is the Blind – to lead him.

Jesus is the Dumb – to speak for him.

Jesus is the Crippled – to walk with him.

Jesus is the Drug addict – to befriend him.

Jesus is the Prostitute – to remove from danger and befriend.

Jesus is the Prisoner – to be visited.

Jesus is the Old – to be served.

A prayer for our times

Righteous Lord God, you love justice and hate evil, and you care for the weak, vulnerable, needy, and the oppressed. Bless our country and its leaders with the wisdom of righteousness and peace. May they secure the right of protection for the unborn, equality of educational opportunities for the young, work for the unemployed, health care for the sick, and food for the hungry. Help management and labor to cooperate for the common good, giving honest work and receiving a fair wage. Deliver our land from all tribal, social, and religious strife, and make our national life more pleasing in your holy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Stott, J. (2018). The Preacher’s Notebook: The Collected Quotes, Illustrations, and Prayers of John Stott. (M. Meynell, Ed.). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Jen Pollock Michel on the limits of public intellectuals

To satiate the ravenous demands of digital readers, a public intellectual today might easily ignore the limits of her knowledge and attempt to become as boundary-less as the unbounded waters of the internet…

As believers, we affirm one of the paradoxes of the human condition put this way by G. K. Chesterton: We are “chief of creatures” but creatures nonetheless. We are called to do good work courageously and faithfully, and part of our courage and faithfulness involves admitting the responsibilities that do and do not belong to us.

God isn’t taking applications for Messiah; he’s already sent one. Accordingly, let’s give to our public intellectuals the permission to say more about less. 

Jen Pollock Michel