Sermon #19 (2nd October 2016 at Essex Church / Kensington Unitarians)
Compassion is something that we talk about quite a lot here in church. It is perhaps one of the key religious values, or practices, one which cuts across many different traditions. Many of you may be aware of the ‘Charter for Compassion’ – a campaign launched by the writer and popular theologian Karen Armstrong in 2009 – she used this central value of compassion as a focal point to bring together individuals and organisations of all faiths and none, inviting them – inviting us – to sign up to a set of affirmations about the need to reaffirm and enact compassion in every sphere of our lives (and our own religious denomination here in the UK, The General Assembly of Unitarian Free Christian Churches, officially became a signatory of the Charter for Compassion a year or two after its launch, endorsing its call for a restoration of compassion as the central value of religion and morality).
So, I’m sure you’ll be reassured to know, we’re officially in favour of compassion! That’s the party line, as it were, and it’s probably one of the least contentious generalisations you can make about Unitarians… But we don’t talk about self-compassion quite so much. It seems to me when people hear the phrase ‘self-compassion’ (if they hear it at all) it conjures up thoughts of selfishness, self-centredness, self-indulgence, qualities quite at odds with the acts of self-giving and self-sacrifice which we might more readily associate with compassion. Read more