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“Nice guys finish last” –
That I’ve heard them say –
Not one to take advantage –
Or the nasty game to play.

“The Last shall be the First” –
Jesus, His disciples did implore –
And look what happened to Judas –
When he wanted just that bit more.

Last may not make you feel good –
Last may leave you well behind –
But first at any cost –
Is not the type of friend I’d like to find.

So kindness and compassion –
These things too are ones that last –
Loved by most, despised of none –
For what more could one have asked?



First written for a poetry prompt on goodreads 

Feast of Stephen

Today is Boxing Day here in England, and in much of “the British World.” The term is relatively new (19th Century), but the practices linked to it are much older. It revolves around the idea of “Christmas Boxes” which were given to formal servants or others who had provided “service” such as postmen, etc.

Christmas Boxes often contained bonuses, small gifts, and often small parcels old clothes or leftover food from the more “well to do” benefactors’ Christmas celebrations.

This spirit of giving is linked to the day in its more Christian manifestation: St Stephen’s Day.  Many people in the English speaking world know of it as “The feast of Stephen,” as mentioned in the carol Good King Wenceslas.

Wenceslas was known for his acts of charity and alms. In the song he is depicted as  wandering through the snow to give relief to the down trodden,


Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay ‘round about
Deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gath’ring winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me,
If thou know’st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence,
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine,
Bring me pine logs hither;
Thou and I will see him dine,
When we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went,
Forth they went together,
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now,
And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, good my page,
Tread thou in them boldly;
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod,
Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

(lyrics source:

This giving of oneself ultimately follows the example of Stephen himself, who gave his life in service of God.  He is noted as the first Christian martyr, and his example of piety is a model for us.  We may never be called upon to “lay down our lives for a friend,” in a literal manner, but we can give of ourselves and our resources, as did Wenceslas, and the “box-givers” of the past.





Proverbs 19:17 reads, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lordand he will reward them for what they have done.”

There are many who hold the view that the poor are deserving of their poverty. “If they had worked harder . . .” or “If they had more self control,” etc, etc. seem to be common reflections of “haves” of “have nots.” Others are not so blatant in their condemnation, but still shy from meaningful “charity” in the name of “good stewardship.” They don’t give out cash, as it might be misused. Okay, it may well be the case in some instances.  Some will rather give food, or assistance, and this seems a right step.  But is it stewardship or prejudice which limits openness to giving?

Are we to be judges? I saw an interesting video a while back of some street people in a UK city making fun of the turbans of some passing Sikhs.  How ironic is it that later the same neighbourhood was visited by members of the Sikh community to distribute langar (free food offerings) to those in need.  An offer even open to those who had previously ridiculed them.

I have written before about Mother Theresa and the Missionaries of Charity who worked (and work) with the “poorest of the poor.” The example, they follow is of the early church, All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need (Acts 4:32-35).”

And this in turn was an application of Jesus’ words in the parable of the sheep and goats.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’(Matthew 25: 34-40).”

Stewardship is the management of the property of others.  We are not the owners or processors of this world and its wealth.  It is God’s creation, His world, His abundance. We are mere caretakers of it while we pass through this world below. Let us think twice before being stingy with what we have been blessed with the use of. “Sharing is caring,” not just to those who receive, but also of Him who has provided.


Some Quotes on Charity



Social concern and giving to those in need are key Christian values.  From the very beginning of the church it has been so,

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all  that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need (Acts 4: 32-35).” 

This attitude of giving does not have a set quantity to it, but rather a an overflowing of the blessings we ourselves have received. Augustine wrote,

“Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.”

C. S. Lewis reflecting in a similar vein said,

“I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little.” 

But what if one is poor themselves?

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one (Mother Theresa).”  

Which seems fitting, as we are passing on from our own blessings, as abundant or meager as they might be. Billy Graham put it this way,

“God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.” 

The consequences of such an attitude are clear,

“Every charitable act is a stepping stone toward heaven (Henry Ward Beecher).”

Finally, “Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. (Francis of Assisi).”








Getting the Job Done vs. Compassion

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I have written on medical ethics, patient care, and general compassion before. I am one of the first to realise and acknowledge that most health care professionals are dedicated, and want positive outcomes for those under their care.  I am also aware that ALL health care workers are human beings, and have bad days, long shifts, and personal problems of their own.  That said, their is still an issue in patient care with compassion.

We have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the last few years. In that time the medical file has become replete with notices and warnings about anxiety issues, and fatigue from the process. Yet on our last two visits in the same department, both with appointments at the end of clinical days, we met with totally different treatment.

I had called in advance on Monday to make sure they were aware of issues, and to verify that measures which had been worked out in procedures over years of trial, error, and compromise would be okay on the day.  All was assured, and the appointment went wonderfully.  The CT technician seeing my wife’s stress (and understanding from her file that I had the authority) allowed me to answer the routine questions of in advance of the scan.  The place was busy, and appointments were running a little behind, but to make the process better, we were taken to a different area and seen sooner to not let the stress to build.  The tech was kind, smiled, and took the notes seriously (even if it did make her job a little more difficult).

On Friday, I rang ahead, was given the assurances, and we arrived on time. We filled in the forms, and she was called. She was after the fatigue of the Monday outing – stressed, but when I began to answer the routine monitoring questions, was cut off.  She had to answer for herself. The stress increased. She became frustrated with having to repeat herself. He leaves. Enter second MRI technician. Routine questions finished, we are then told that measures which had been made in the past will not be available today. In fact, he argued they are never available.  This despite they being used in the same department, same sub-clinic, and same procedure on the two previous visits. He wanted to get in, get it done, with no variation in the smooth running of his schedule.  Patient anxiety, fear, and physical limitations (beyond those of his immediate focus) were irrelevant.  The end result was the cancelling of the appointment, and now more anxiety of ever having to go to hospital again.

I know this is a bit of a rant, but is a smile, and a little patience especially with people clearly in distress too much to ask?