Theology of Practice II


“…And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk
humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8

“To act Justly”

In my ministry, right action is not something that is set in stone.  Every encounter is new and involves no fewer than three people: myself, the other, and God.  Imposing my own plan based merely on what I think is necessary or important may hinder the process of that encounter and denies the needs of the other, as well as the working of God.  This does not mean that I am a passive observer, but that I act based not on my own preconceived notions but on what is revealed in the moment  encounter both God and the other.  Freeing myself from my own “should’s” beforehand will make me more open to what “could” be as well as to what God or the patient is telling me “could” be.  Acting justly, in the context of hospice chaplaincy, refrains from judgment and instead seeks to discover and celebrate meaning when possible, and to walk with
them in the silence when it isn’t.  The dying also may not have basic spiritual, emotional or physical needs met, and acting justly also requires that I advocate for them during those times.

“and to love Mercy”

Mercy can mean loving in spite of circumstances, not simply the putting aside of justice.  Just action will be merciful.  If action toward the dying is not merciful, it is not just.  My patients may be dealing with guilt and shame resulting from past wrongs, or a past injury to their self, that makes them feel outside of God’s mercy.  In other cases, they may be at peace and fully holding on to God’s mercy as I sign of His love and acceptance.  As chaplain I am not only a conduit of God’s mercy through prayer and counseling, but through my presence.  God’s mercy can be present to them because I am present to them.  In a similar way, because God is working through those I encounter in my life as well, God’s
mercy is shown to me in the lives of my patients and families.  In the same way as they receive mercy through me – I receive mercy and am reminded to be merciful to myself – through them.

“and to walk Humbly with your God.”

Humility is not self-abasement; rather it is fully recognizing my value through God’s gift of acceptance.  True humility then is not a matter of valuing myself more or less than another.  Instead it looks at life as inherently valuable and worthy, worthy enough for salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Humility comes from recognizing that this value is not from my own doing or work, but through
Jesus’ mercy and action first.  This is something that is very much in process for me, but “walking” implies a journey rather than a destination.

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