e-letter 5/4/18

What a great time we had at POV on Wednesday Evening! I was overwhelmed with the 150+ people that showed up for our first POV (Point of View) Workshop. If you were one of the ones that showed up and participated: Thank you! Let’s do it again! If you weren’t able to join us, I hope you will consider joining us for the next two weeks!

The largest section of POV last night was all about empathy. Jill Kibler did a fantastic job leading us in discussions about empathy and constructing empathy maps. (She really is a rock star!)

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of the other. When we experience empathy, we engage with and feel the pain and hopes of another person. We seek to understand where it is they are coming from. We seek to hear and feel their experiences. We try to feel a warmed heart toward the other, no matter what the subject may be.

We can experience empathy through listening to other people. When we listen, we can receive insights into what they are thinking and feeling. No—we may not experience or receive the insight in the moment of them sharing—but through reflection, we may gain insight into who they are.

In experiencing empathy, we are not trying to make anything better, we are just trying to connect with the emotion and truth that the other person is feeling. Empathy may require some vulnerability on our part, which is uncommon in many cultures and communities today (even the church) but can be so powerful in our relationships together.

Jesus, God taking on flesh and moving into our neighborhood, is all about empathy. That’s where God started in Jesus with us. The incarnation is God experiencing life with us. If Jesus, walking on earth with us in flesh, is fully human and fully divine—then Jesus experienced and knows all there is to experience empathy with the other.

We showed a video at POV last night that is an illustration of a talk Brene Brown gave. Click here on this link to watch this video on YouTube.  I love how it is a playful video that helps us understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. I encourage you to watch it sometime within the next few days. Discuss it with your partner, family member, or a trusted friend. I got a lot out of it, and I pray you will as well!

This upcoming Sunday, we will be discussing having “Eyes of Peace”— focusing on the calling of reconciliation. Reconciliation in this life is possible, and I believe we live in a world that desperately needs it. Feel free to read 2 Corinthians 5:15-21 before coming to worship. Come to worship with one word or one phrase that really sticks out to you.

Suntree UMC, I am praying for you and I hope you’ll pray for me. Thank you for being willing to dialogue with your sisters and brothers. Thank you for being open to the Spirit of God, even today, even in this place, even within you. You are a beloved child of God. Don’t forget that.