Faith Matters: Practicing putting people first

  • Pastor Lance Humphrey on the Common in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Pastor Lance Humphrey with some of his Cathedral In The Light parishioners on the Common in Greenfield. June 28, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Faith and Ministry Leader, Cathedral in the Light
Friday, July 06, 2018

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com or call 413-772-0261, ext. 265.)

Over the past few weeks, we have been shown scenes and images and heard stories of young children being separated from their parents because of questions surrounding their citizenship. There are heart-wrenching photos of children crying and sleeping in detention centers and distraught parents uncertain of their future and their families’ well-being.

I am disturbed by these images and stories and I realize I’m not alone in my anguish. Many of us are angry, powerless and saddened. Our passion has risen to the surface and it has begun to affect us in uncommon ways. Seeing families harassed, distressed and torn apart affects us. Our eyes become open to deep injustice and we are compelled by great compassion. Some might say we see our own human struggle in these images.

Jesus’s super-commandment, the one he places above all else, is that we must love God with all our heart and soul and with all our mind and all our strength. And, that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. For Jesus there is no greater rule than this. For Jesus, our neighbor means all of humanity — all God’s children. We love God with all our heart and soul when we love our neighbor. And, we demonstrate our love of God when we use our determination and strength to defend and support our neighbors in their time of need.

While images of detained families compel our compassion, we needn’t look far to see similar images of suffering right before our very eyes — within our own families, neighborhoods, and communities. All around us, people are struggling and suffering. People, young and old, are feeling disconnected, uncertain and unsupported. Many have turned to drugs, alcohol and gangs. Others have turned inside themselves and have become isolated, fearful, saturated with anxiety and hopelessness. Jesus’ words encourage us to have the same depth of compassion for the people directly around us as we do the displaced children and parents who desperately need our help. We love God with all our heart and soul when we become closely aware and passionate and supportive of all God’s people.

Making compassion for others a life-practice is one way of improving our spiritual connectivity. One thing I’ve learned from my work as an outdoor minister is that many, maybe most, people have had some kind of spiritual experience in their lives. Many who have experienced these connections understand them as transformative and life-changing. While some of these experiences simply happen, we also know that through practice we are able to improve our connectivity and closeness with God and therefore we open ourselves to positive life changes.

A regular practice in a faith-based community is a great way to grow spiritually and to strengthen your soul (something many of us neglect when it comes to health). A faith community is a place to practice healing, loving, forgiving and compassion for one’s neighbor.

A healthy soul is filled with compassion for other people, is full of love, ready to forgive, full of life without fear, and is complete in its acceptance of God’s place in the center of life. When we are healthy in this way, we are prepared to help those families who are being separated and to lift those around us and see them as the wonderful neighbors they are.

About Cathedral in the Light

Cathedral in the Light is a non-denominational Christian-based community. We meet each Sunday at 2 p.m. on the Greenfield Town Common. We host a worship, prayer and gratitude service which includes music, a message and Communion. We serve a full meal after our blessing song at the end of each service. Our meals are generously supplied and served by our Community Partners. All are welcome and all are worthy. This is a cooperative ministry where people are encouraged to share their gifts with the community. We welcome a wide range of neighbors. We are always seeking Community Partners for meals, musicians for music, and faith leaders for a variety of support.

For information: text, call or email Lance Humphrey at lancehumphrey@mac.com or (413) 246-8854.

LANCE HUMPHREY is an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ. He serves as the Associate Minister for the UCC Holyoke, and is the Faith and Ministry leader for Cathedral in the Light, an ecumenical outdoor ministry in Greenfield. He served as a minister since 2011 with the Cathedral in the Night in Northampton. His latest endeavor, Faithwaze, is a worship service that combines many of the aspects of recovery work with progressive pastoral ministry. Faithwaze meets each Saturday in Holyoke for a service, soup and bread. Lance lives with his family in Granby and owns a business in Chicopee. He loves to share God’s grace with others and help them see and experience God wherever they are.