Do you know me?

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

This weekend was mother’s day and we heard about the great characteristics of a good mother which many of us looking back can fortunately see and be thankful for.

One of the characteristics was that mothers truly know you. They know you in and out, your weaknesses, your strengths, your desires, your dislikes, when you hurt and when you are really happy AND they love you nevertheless more than anything. This is true for my mother, definitely when I was a child and, still, she has a fairly good idea now despite the distance and the many years I have “grown up”.

Why did this characteristic of a mother strike me in a special way?

Because yesterday I realized how little I know you.

The service was also a special because it was the last Sunday Ir. worshipped with us in person for probably a long time if not for good.

It is easy to see that Ir. has a different life, bound to a wheel chair, depending on another person to take her hair out of her face or to wipe the tears when hearing the words Chr. and Ju. had prepared so lovingly for her departure and her next steps of life in Ar.. Although I had helped Ir. to lift her hand more than one time to place it back on her control stick of her electric wheel chair, to move a hair which had hung across her face I had no clue how much she struggled with the German welfare system despite many great helpers, how she came to be the person she is and what her days in the apartment across the street were like. Her farewell email revealed a world I had never entered with her. Short conversations didn’t allow me to see much beyond the present necessities, the agenda of today or the few glimpses of her deep insight and brilliant mind. Now she has left and this leaves me with a feeling I missed to get to know a caring person who looked way beyond herself despite her handicap, who had moved much more than hands and legs despite her severe paralysis, who has proven more courageous by the decision to move to a country of which she still will have to learn the language and who had shown such a servant leadership to our community that I feel thankful for her tremendous commitment and dedication and embarrassed how little I know about her. 

Do we know the other person in our church? How much do I know Ro., .. and the many African members of our church and their struggles, worries and pleasures in a totally different culture? I could continue my list on and on, am I so little interested in the other? Am I guilty of superficial politeness, just a nice smile?

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

John 10: 14-15

To truly know someone costs more than a smile, it costs time, more than just the coffee after church, listening, sharing, sharing stories, maybe sharing a meal, sharing in home group, sharing prayer.

It is not by chance that I know people from home group, men’s breakfast, FiF better. The church retreat was always a time when I got to know someone in a surprising way, way beyond my first impression and attitude.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart;” (…)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 1:5 / Jeremiah 29:11

We need to be known, only then we belong. Can we be a church where we are known and learn to know others?

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands;”

Isaiah 49:16

… and I struggle just to remember the name of the newcomer I had greeted last week. An invitation will become personal when we remember the names of the new person and his or her story, she or he had shared last time we talked. The peace may become a deep wish when we know the wars the other is facing. Our prayers will become true sources of encouragement and praise when we listen with our ears and hearts and remember and value the lives of the other by bringing them before our God we share believing in and who knows and loves us so deeply that He became the shepherd who died for us and rose again so that we may know and trust him.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

from Psalm 139

Lord, You have searched me, and you know me.
Thank you Ir. and fare well because of His promise
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
(Psalm 139:9-10)

The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.

Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.

We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.

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