Sunday, November 30, 2014

Focus - Cain & Abel - October 18, 2012

Focus - Cain & Abel - October 18, 2012

By: Jennifer Dwyer

I would like to begin with a prayer:

Dear Lord,
 Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.  Thank you for the gathering and fellowship of my sisters in Christ.  Please send down Your Spirit today to guide me, give me the courage to speak, and wisdom in my words.  I seek to always do Your will for the furthering of the community of Christ.
Today, I would like to share a brief story about how I came to be in front of you today. I would like to share a poem I found on an internet blog, and I would like to share some personal thoughts and experiences regarding our reading today.

Why am I up here today?  I am not 100% sure, but I can tell you one thing, it is God's will.  Over the last few weeks, during the focus, many have encouraged us to get up and help out with the focus.  During these discussions, I had a little voice in my head saying, "You should do it."  Followed by my the voice of my fears, "I don't like getting up in front of people,"  "I am a new member, I don't have enough experience to talk to these women,"  "I will fail, and not convey the message I need to", and finally, "I don't know which focus would be right for me to sign up for."  Well, God heard all of my fears and worries and doubts, and he continued to call.  I negotiated with the Lord, in my typically strong willed nature.  I said, "Lord, if you lead me to which focus I should do, I will do it for you."  So, the next week, the assistant group leader of my small group, Catherine S., approached me while we were greeting together and asked, "Jennifer, do you have any siblings?"  I replied, "Yes, I have a brother and a sister".  Next, she asked, "You have six children living with you right?"  to which I replied, "Yes."  Next came the big questions, "You know a little about siblings don't you? Would you be interested in giving the focus before the Cain and Abel discussion?"  To which in my head I replied, "Yes, Lord!", and then I said to Catherine, "Sure."  Our Lord is awesome he calls us, listens to us, and answers our prayers.  

So, while preparing this focus, I called on the Spirit to help me prepare.  I am a natural introvert.  I like to sit back and watch, and talk to those who approach me first.  Many of you might have noticed that I seem to be off in my own world, until others engage me back into this world.  The Lord is calling me to learn new skills, and I am trying.  Thank you for bearing with me, as I nervously speak in front of you all today.  

Now, I would like to share with you a poem I found on an un-authored blog on  It spoke directly to me after reading the Cain & Abel passage for today.  It is entitled, My Brother’s Keeper.

My Brother’s Keeper
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his voice when he can not speak
I am his strength when he is weak
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his provider when he is in need
I am his arms when he can not reach
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his justice when he is wronged
I am his friend when he is alone
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his courage when he is afraid
I am his comforter when he is dismayed
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his hope when he does not believe
I am his truth when he is deceived
Am I my brother’s keeper
Yes I am
I am his guide when he has gone astray
I am his aide if he needs help along the way
Am I my brother’s keeper
The answer is yes
I am him, I am her
I am my brother’s keeper.

Cain spoke the words to God, “I am not my brother’s keeper.”  I would like to share some of my current personal journey and a few scriptures passages that I find speak to me on the topic of being my brother’s keeper.

I said earlier that I have a brother and sister; I have constant struggles with them both, but also try to love them fully as God commands me.  In scripture, John 13:34 Jesus states:

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As, I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  

My brother is currently homeless in Colorado.  He is a wanderer.  We believe he has an undiagnosed major mental illness, however, when we bring it up to him, he refuses to speak to us about the possibility and says that he is fine and the rest of the world is against him.  Despite his words and bad choices in his lifestyle, I love him as Jesus has commanded me.  I have had to learn to let go of trying to "help him" in his own struggle.  I have accepted that you cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves.  I do however, continue to actively "love him" in the action sense of the word.  I do still speak with him, accept him for who he is, and I pray for him often.  I also do what I can to help the people in his life who are most affected by his actions.  I am my brother's keeper.

I also stated earlier, that I have six children living with me.  This might sound funny, most people just say, "I have six children."  I have only given birth to four children, but I am helping to raise my brother's two daughters.  Again, I am my brother's keeper.  I help him when he is unable to do things on his own.  He is not able to raise these girls, so I am doing what I can to further the community of God by raising them with the help of my wonderful husband and my parents.  The work is challenging, but God never said the road would be easy.  He actually says quite the contrary in Matthew 7:14

"How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life" 

So, who are our brothers and sister? Who am I called to be the keeper of?  The lord answers this for me in Matthew 12:46-50 describes the True Family of Jesus

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him.  Someone told him his mothers and his brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.  But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, sister, and mother.

I believe in my heart that when we go before the Lord we will have to answer two questions, “How did you love Me? and “How did you love one another”  There is a direct connection between what we do for others and what we do for God.  In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

I would like to close with a quote from St. Therese of Lisieux

“Jesus wills that we give alms to Him as to the poor and needy.  He puts Himself as it were at our mercy; He will take nothing but what we give Him from our heart, and the very least trifle is precious in His sight.  He stretches forth His Hand, this sweet Savior , to receive of us a little love, so that in the radiant Day of Judgment He may be able to address to us those infallible words: “Come ye blessed of my Father for I was hungry and you gave me eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you took me in, sick and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.”

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