Kindness (Night Church)

Kindness (Night Church)

Theme: Kindness
Series: May ONLINE
Bible Reading: Titus 3:1-15
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain with Dr Catherine Barrett, Founder of the Kindness Pandemic
Preached ONLINE – Sunday 10 May, 2020


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Sermon Text

We are coming up to 2 months of COVID19 iso – this is our 8th church service not in the church building.  How are we going with it? 

And while there are some encouraging signs that restrictions might be lightened soon-ish … there is a reality is that life is not going back to normal anytime soon.  Actually … that is a good question that Night Church wrestled with last Sunday night … do we want things to go back to normal, or have we in this time started to discern a better way to live, to be in community, to balance our lives better.  It was an excellent discussion last Sunday night … check it out on our Youtube channel.

But in the meantime … the question I want to ponder this morning is what does the world need most to help us get through?

  • Bill withers would say we all need somebody to lean on

[ or to be cool with the kids … Major Lazer & DJ Snake]

  • The Beatles would tell us that all we need is love.
  • I have heard the Prime minister saying that we need to have hope … that we will get through this and that better times are coming.

I think all of those are great answers.  But today I want to focus on a word that I think is so important … not only in the midst of what we are going through but also as we move beyond COVID19 and start shaping a new normal … I think we need a whole lot of KINDNESS.  (come on, you saw that coming)

The dictionary defines Kindness as the quality of being:

  • Friendly – it is more than a task … you are noticing and acknowledging the person or animal etc
  • Generous – there is a level of cost to you … you give of yourself or your resources or your love
  • Considerate – it is primarily to benefit the other, because it best for them (although as I will go on to say later, it is also good for us too).

But Kindness is more than this.  The Bible speaks very highly of kindness.  Galatians 5 lists it as one of the fruits of the spirit, Colossians 3 tells us that we should put it on each day in the same way we put on clothes, Ephesians 2 tells us that Grace is expressed through kindness and our bible reading from Titus linked the kindness of God with Salvation.

But my favourite verse on Kindness is from Jeremiah 31:3 when the Lord says to us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.  There is something amazing about kindness that draws us in … when we do something kind, or kindness is shown to us, or even if we witness an act of kindness … something stirs deep within us.  It makes us feel … good, joyous, alive … and it draws us in. 

Let me show you some examples. 

  • Boy having a iso-birthday.  Loves JEEPs … parents put out a call for a Jeep driveby … 300 jeeps turn up.
  • Husband couldn’t see his wife in the nursing home … 3 stories up … cherrypicker

What is about these stories that make us emotion.  They move us, they touch our souls, they draw us in … because they are acts of kindness.  And we need more kindness in the world at the moment.

BTW, these clips are from a youtube show call Some Good News … it is extraordinary.  Look it up.  You can thank me later.  Just a simple show full of goodness which has become an internet sensation.

Speaking of internet sensations.  When this restriction stuff just started, Jo Drayton send me a link to a Facebook group called “The Kindness Pandemic” and it is also full of stories and people who are showing acts of kindness.  It has been a source of life and joy for me over the past month and I am thrilled that I had the opportunity this week to chat with the founder of this initiative – Dr Catherine Barrett – to share with you.  Here it is.

Wow … wasn’t that inspiring.  I was just blown away by the conversation. 

A couple of things I just want to highlight to finish just weaving together some of the things that Catherine said with our bible reading from Titus.

Firstly, There is something deeply powerful about an act of kindness.   Even the simplest act of kindness can draw people closer together and to profoundly impact and influence a situation or a person.  Our reading from Titus acknowledged that the whole transforming process of Salvation started … when the kindness and love of God appeared.  Kindness matters.  Acts of kindness can transform people and transform communities.

I was chatting with my good friend Amy who is Day 58 in lockdown in their apartment block in London.  Amidst the scariness (she said that they have had more deaths in their neighbourhood from COVID19 than we have had in all of Australia), she said that something amazing has happened.  I was mentioning the idea of people being kind to each other and this are her words:

That side of the pandemic has been amazing. even in our apartment block, people we have never met are being kind. There is a book exchange and a puzzle exchange and people leave extra toilet paper and excess baked goods for other people – it’s a community we have never known before but it’s really lovely

Acts of kindness can transform people and transform communities.

Secondly, Beware … many acts of kindness can be undone by a single act of unkindness.  I think it is on purpose that Paul straight after he talks about kindness and devoting ourselves to doing good follows it up by telling Titus not to get into pointless arguments or in situations that led to division.

I agree … if we want the profound impact of the kindness pandemic to sweep through our lives and communities then we also need to step back from things that are unkind.  Do you want a practical example?  I have a preacher friend who says that he has decided to never “read the comments” underneath a controversial Facebook quote or tweet.  He says it one thing to engage in an issue, but he says that the comment section is just plain mean.  His advice to his congregation … avoid engaging in the comment section because it undermines the kindness we are trying to spread. 

Paul affirms this in his letter to Philippians … 4:8 … when he wrote.. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy [and we could add kind]—think about such things.

And lastly … and this is the point that Dr Catherine brought how so well, it is one thing to ponder kindness, or even to be moved deeply by watching or reading about acts of kindness on a forum like the Kindness Pandemic … but the key to all of this is to actually do kindness … to be the one who is showing kindness to others.

I love the postie example … a girl thanks her postie that has led to a movement … and posties are saying … never had this experience in 30 years of working for the postal service.

And so I finish this with a challenge. 

To be kind.  To show kindness to others.

Actually … lets do that right now.

Turn to the person next to you and say something kind

Do something kind.

Pull out your phone and send a message, or ring someone or send a text. Or write a comment to someone in the comment section!

I am going to play 5 minutes of a Chris Tomlin song, because I want to you in the next five minutes show an act of kindness.  (Actually I want you to do it all week but lets start now).

Because when the kindness and love … both from God and from us to other … when kindness and love appear, we are saved.

Do an act of kindness right now and if your brave, afterwards, tell us about it in the comment section!