Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ubi Caritas - live in charity



Ubi caritas et amor,
ubi caritas Deus ibi est.

Live in charity and steadfast love.
Live in charity; God will dwell with you.

Charity is a word that most people don't use - or don't like to use. When I think of charity the phrase "Don't live off others charity", comes to mind. Somehow, charity's meaning has shifted to the space of being dependent on a great benefactor or bleeding off of someone else for something you want.

According to dictionary.com, charity is:
char·i·ty   [char-i-tee]

noun, plural -ties.
1.generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless: to devote one's life to charity.
2.something given to a person or persons in need; alms: She asked for work, not charity.
3.a charitable act or work.
4.a charitable fund, foundation, or institution: He left his estate to a charity.
5.benevolent feeling, especially toward those in need or in disfavor: She looked so poor that we fed her out of charity.

When considering the definitions above, giving out of charity is something that is motivated out of love, concern, and selflessness. While I like to think of myself as an independent person, when looking at this definition I realize that I have been and will continue to be a recipient of charity. I've received charity from friends, family and ultimately - from God. Charity is the action motivated by love, compassion and care for someone else. Charity moves people to a place of active love, where needs are met, faith is encouraged and love is given generously. Just as the Taize chorus says:

Live in charity and steadfast love.
Live in charity; God will dwell with you.

Either in giving or receiving charity - God dwells there, and that is the place I want to live.

Each Wednesday at First Lutheran Church of Jamestown a small group gathers for prayer, scripture reading, and singing. This week our song is Ubi Caritas - Live in Charity. Chapel opens at noon, prayers begin at 12:15 - all are welcome.

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