This week my husband and I were invited by the Berlin city mission. The city mission helps homeless individuals, helps the marginalised, refugees, those in need of help, the lonely. It was founded in 1877 and is one of the many organisations to work for the benefit of all. The fitting motto of the city mission is Biblical:
"Work for the well-being of the city where I have sent you to and pray to the Lord for this. For if it is well with the city you live in, it will be well with you.’" (Jeremiah 29: 4. New Life Version)
The city mission had needed a few extra hands to prepare hundreds of sandwiches for the homeless last winter, early mornings - and our daughter (who had made the connection), my husband and I, among others, volunteered. Mary Baker Eddy has this wonderful inspiration in her beautiful text "Love":
"Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power. As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth." (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 250)
The city mission thanked us all with a few gifts, a wonderful breakfast buffet - and a thanksgiving service. The sermon included a great story from the Old Testament, being retold from a refreshingly new angle - Elijah is in trouble, he has been fighting for God and had to flee into the desert, exhausted and ready to give up. But God sends an angel with a cake and some water, Elijah is invigorated and regains his strength, and finally starts walking towards mount Horeb where he learns a lesson in humility and experiences healing. You can find this story in the book of First Kings, chapter 19.
The pastor asked himself and us where we see ourselves in this story. The three acting powers in this story are: 1.God, sending an angel, 2.the angel bringing food, and 3.Elijah, well, being just himself, desperate. The pastor talked about the heavenly truth that all is in God's hands - and even if we are in despair, something or someone takes care of us. So are we not sometimes the ones to send help to someone in need? Sometimes the ones to put a sandwich without a word in front of someone asleep on a street, alone in the night? Whether we share the food or receive it - it is all in God's hands. The pastor expressed gratitude that this winter we had been the ones to put the food in front of many helpless individuals - and he encouraged us to acknowledge that it was God who had put us into this position.
I see in this story a useful idea that is inspiring me. I call it "the help triangle": All three states of being in our experience are fruitful and bring progress. Whether we are inspired to send help (1), whether we are the ones to bring help (2) - or whether we are the ones to gracefully receive help (3): It is all good. It is all about learning some aspect of Love, in some way. We are in God's hands.
You can see "the help triangle" in your own life and activate it right away. Can you help someone? Can you make sure someone gets help? Can you acknowledge that you need help? Whatever it is, there is a dignity in your position within the triangle --- the whole triangle is completely embraced by and rooted in Love. Guilt, shame, and sadness are excluded from this help triangle! We are always held in Love, we are learning from Love and we express Love. Always.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.