KS staffers share Lent devotionals for weeks four and five

Mar. 26, 2017

Contributed by Nadine Lagaso

By VP of Strategy and Innovation Lauren Nahme (Reflect on this devotional from Sun., March 26 through Sat. April 1.) 

As I prepared for this Lent devotion through days of prayer and reading His word, God’s simple command to, “Love God and love your neighbor” kept coming to mind. I think this may have been one of the first principles I learned during my childhood introduction to Him, one that He emphasizes several times in the Bible, and one that many of us are familiar with. 

Why would He choose this?  It is so basic that I should know so well as a Christian. He is teaching me over again how powerfully simple, yet difficult this really is. During this season of reflection, He has challenged me to think again about what it means and made it apparent how I still struggle to follow in the way He intended.  And He has inspired me to see its true promise and power.

When Jesus was asked which of the commandments is the most important, He answered, “E aloha aku ʻoe iā Iēhova i kou Akua me kou naʻau a pau, a me kou ʻuhane a pau, a me kou manaʻo a pau. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Loving God is the first and greatest commandment. And then Jesus taught that the second most important is to “love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mareko (Mark) 12:25-31

In our kula Hawaiʻi, keiki are reminded of this important virtue about the importance of mutual aloha – respect and empathy – for one another in this ʻōlelo noʻeau, “Aloha kekahi i kekahi.” God’s word in I Tesalonike (I Thesalonians) 4:9 also reminds us of this commandment, “ua aʻo ʻia mai ʻoukou e ke Akua e aloha i kekahi i kekahi” (for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other).

How do I love my neighbor?  A by-product of loving God is love for my neighbor. And in my pursuit of Him, God challenges me. Who is my neighbor?  What does it mean to “love” them? And to love them as I love myself?  How is that really possible?

God calls us to “be” with others. He shares this in the famous story about Martha and Mary and distinguishes Mary’s faithfulness, sitting at the feet of Jesus, with Martha’s busy-ness getting things done.

As I parented my three children early on, I often operated by being busy with them, versus really “being” with them. Being present with people without distraction, listening to them, looking them in the eye is harder than we think, yet essential for us to truly know and love.

What if they hurt me?  Mataio (Matthew) 5:43-44 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ E aloha aku i ko ʻoukou poʻe ʻenemi, e hoʻomaikaʻi aku hoʻi i ka poʻe hōʻino mai iā ʻoukou; e hana lokomaikaʻi aku hoʻi i ka poʻe inaina mai iā ʻoukou. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

This universal command is simple, but truly a tall order, especially in a time like the present when the honeymoon of the Kamehameha Schools Strategic Plan 2020 is over, the “rubber is meeting the road” with a multitude of opportunities for us to inadvertently offend and hurt each other. My neighbor quickly seems like an enemy if he/she is doing something I don't understand or don’t agree with, criticizes and attacks me, takes away resources, or disrupts my operations that took many seasons of hard work to build.

We feel we are justified in our thoughts and actions that preserve ourselves, but in actuality, that mindset hurts instead of helps. I know we all have stories if we think hard enough. Every day, I can think of situations when I truly acted like or saw others as enemies instead of neighbors. So there’s no denying that forgiving and praying for our enemies is a tough command of love, but it is essential for us to jointly and healthily focus on and serve our community. 

Our aliʻi demonstrated this kind of heart.  Queen Liliʻuokalani prayed for her enemies during her imprisonment. She reminded them of her Hawaiian people’s love for Ke Akua and His love for her lāhui when she wrote to remind her enemies by this poignant and memorable manaʻo:

“The people to whom your fathers told of the living God, and taught to call ‘Father’ and whom the sons now seek to despoil and destroy, are crying aloud to Him in their time of trouble; and He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes.”

How do we keep our relationship balanced? If we only focus on “being” with others and forgive all the time, is doesn’t seem like a healthy relationship. Well, God also built in accountability in love and relationships in a way that strengthens.

In Proverbs 27:17 it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” And He shares many examples throughout the Bible about “neighbors” lovingly challenging and correcting each other with a spirit of healing and strengthening. 

In its simplicity, loving our neighbor can narrow down to “being” with each other, forgiving and praying for each other, and strengthening each other. 

All of this seems counterintuitive to many of the books we read regarding success in corporate America, so this can’t apply in the workplace, right?  But imagine what it would look like if we all flipped a switch and focused on this and lovingly held each other accountable to it?  Would we find a way to align with each other and move mountains for the lāhui? Could this be at the heart of collective impact and a way to make it easier and real? Is this a way to a transformative vision that God desires, that our community needs?  Ho’ōla lāhui? 

Could “simple” be that “powerful?” And simple doesn’t mean easy; it’s hard stuff, but His way promises much.

So, during this Lent season, God has reminded me of His simple command to reflect on, practice at a deeper level: “Love God, Love my Neighbor.”

Mahalo Ke Akua for providing everything that we need so that we can follow you; even distilling your word and life plan for us to simple terms with amazing power. You are the God that has our best in your plan and can be realized by loving you, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Mahalo for the call to action you bring before us in this Lent season: reflecting, learning and practicing what this means in our daily lives, here in our amazing assignment at Kamehameha Schools.  We love you, Lord. Ma ka inoa o Kāu Keiki Hiwahiwa mākou e pule nei. In your Son’s name we pray, ʻĀmene. 

Who are our neighbors at work, the place we spend most of our waking hours at? Our staff? Our colleagues? Our bosses? Yes, they all are. What would these examples look like at KS? And what about our ultimate “neighbors,” including our students, their families, others who support them like our partners and collaborators...how would we change the way we think, operate? 

In this way, how can we challenge ourselves to and have others hold us accountable to it? Here are my humble suggestions:

  • BE with your neighbors. Slow down and spend time to get to know and be with your neighbors so you can see the world from their shoes. Listen more, understand their pains, see their gifts.
  • FORGIVE and ask for forgiveness, regardless of what you deserve. We all intentionally and unintentionally hurt others and need forgiveness. Are you willing to ask for it?  Are you willing to give it, even when it seems undeserved?
  • STRENGTHEN OTHERS. Can you make yourself vulnerable by being open to and even desiring of constructive criticism from your neighbor and giving it also, in order to make each other stronger?  Are you willing to take an unpopular position with others in order to empower/unleash the gifts in someone else?

By KS Senior Counsel Nāhoa Lucas, Senior Counsel – Education Legal Division (Reflect on this devotional from Sun., April 2 through Sat. April 8.)

Ioane (John) 9:2-7, 39
Nīnau akula kāna poʻe haumāna iā ia, ʻī akula, E Rabi, ʻo wai kai hewa, ʻo ia nei anei, a ʻo kona mau mākua anei, i hānau makapō mai ai ia? ʻĪ maila ʻo Iesū, ʻAʻole i hewa ʻo ia nei, ʻaʻole hoʻi ʻo kona mau mākua: akā, ʻo ka mea ia e ʻike ʻia ai nā hana a ke Akua iā ia. He pono noʻu e hana i nā hana a ka mea nāna au i hoʻouna mai, ʻoiai ka lā; e hiki mai auaneʻi ka pō, ʻaʻohe kanaka e hiki ke hana i laila. Iaʻu e noho ai i ke ao nei, ʻo wau nō ka mālamalama o kēia ao.

A pau aʻela kāna ʻōlelo ʻana ia mau mea, kuha ihola ia ma ka lepo, a hokahokai ihola i ke kuha me ka lepo, a hoʻopala aʻela i ka lepo ma nā maka o ua makapō lā; A ʻī maila iā ia, E hele ʻoe, e holoi ma ka wai ʻauʻau ʻo Siloama, (ma ka hoʻohālike ʻana, ʻO ka hoʻouna ʻia:) no laila hele akula ia, a holoi ihola, a hoʻi maila e ʻike ana.

ʻŌlelo maila ʻo Iesū, No ka hoʻoponopono kaʻu i hele mai ai i kēia ao, i lilo ai ka poʻe ʻike ʻole i poʻe ʻike; a i lilo ai ka poʻe ʻike i poʻe makapō.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”            

In our gospel reading for this week, we are told of the miracle story of Jesus restoring the sight of a blind man using nothing more than dirt mixed with the saliva of Jesus. While your initial reaction may be repulsed by saliva mud being rubbed in one’s eyes, I ask you to focus on the miracle story of restoring sight: how can this be, you may ask?

We don’t need to look far about the healing properties of soil, when we examine our own culture.  Indeed, for thousands of years, our kūpuna used the ʻalaea, or red ocherous dirt, as lāʻau lapaʻau, or traditional medicine, to heal and restore balance to our bodies. The mana, or spiritual energy passing from our Lord and Savior’s lips, mixed with earth, and passed through to the patient who was ready and willing to be healed is not so foreign a concept when viewed against the backdrop of our own culture. 

Our story is filled with those who are mindlessly running around and asking (and re-asking) questions in disbelief about the miracle, all except the patient who was healed and utters those now infamous words: “though I was blind, and now I see.” 

The most critical part of this story is when Jesus finds the healed man after he has been driven out of the temple by the Pharisees. Now comes the time for interpretation and reflection. The act of healing has occurred. Jesus asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

“Who is he?” responds the healed man, just as honestly as he always has.

“You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he,” Jesus responds. And the healed man proclaims, “Lord, I believe.”

With that proclamation, the healing is indeed complete. The man born blind sees not only the world around him, with utter and complete honesty, but now also sees Jesus himself, the Lord of that world, who can bring clarity even out of the mud made from human spit.

Our scattered speculations, emerging as they do only from a need to defend our own agendas, are only as clear as mud in the eyes of God. As long as we seek only to fit the acts of God into our human picture, we are blind, unable even to comprehend what God may have for us in the future. 

At the end of the ninth chapter of John, some Pharisees begin to see. The evidence of that sight is their questioning of Jesus who clarifies their spiritual blindness. They question whether they can see at all. They ask Jesus, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” And Jesus’ response is sharp and precise: “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

Be careful, then, whenever we say, “We see.” Our human speculation, as fun and provocative as it may be, can never comprehend the amazing power of God. We can never enclose the marvelous presence of God. God will burst the boundaries and walls of our personal agendas with new light.

Perhaps that is also what happened to Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, the individual whose birthday we celebrated this month. Anointed a crown prince by HM King Kalākaua, Kūhiō unsuccessfully sought in 1895 at the age of 24 to restore the Monarchy after the illegal overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani. Imprisoned one year for treason against the revolutionary government, Kūhiō served his term and then left the country with his wife shortly after Hawaiʻi was annexed as a Territory in 1898 and served in the British military from 1899 to 1902 in South Africa, in the Second Boer’s Wars. 

Perhaps it was that inner light from our Lord and Savior that called Kūhiō to return to Hawaiʻi from his self-imposed exile to take an active role in territorial politics, winning a seat to the U.S. Congress as a territorial delegate in 1903.  As a delegate, Kūhiō was responsible for the enactment of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act in 1921, which set aside over 200,000 acres of government land for long term leases at a nominal rent to native Hawaiians. He served on the first Hawaiian Homes Commission, founded the first Hawaiian Civic Club, and reorganized the Royal Order of Kamehameha, which held the first observance of Kamehameha Day in 1904.

One can only wonder what further influence Kūhiō would have made to improve the conditions of native Hawaiians, had he not died unexpectedly at the age of 51. 

Thus, the light that we speak of is Jesus, the Lord, and the Light of the World, who shines a new light in our lives. Jesus does that by focusing not on the reasons for illness, not on the philosophical justifications of reality, but by focusing on human need.

There are people around us whose needs are so familiar to us that we now ignore them. They were born blind, we say, and that is that.  Jesus, however, refuses to walk right by them, just as Jesus refuses to walk right by each one of us. Jesus wants to touch each one of us with sight. And every person – blind or seeing, Pharisee or disciple – is an opportunity for Jesus.

Each of us is an opportunity for God to reveal light in utter and elegant simplicity. Let Jesus touch our eyes today and we will see the light of the world.

E Iesū ko mākou Haku Hoʻōla, hoʻonani mākou iā ʻOe i nā kau a kau. E ʻoluʻolu, e wehe i ko mākou mau maka a ʻike mākou i Ko mālamalama i ke ao nei. E aloha nō hoʻi mākou i ka poʻe hewa a makapō e like me Kou aloha iā mākou.

O Jesus, our Lord and Savior, we glorify you now and forever. Please open our eyes that we may always see Your light in this world. May we be compassionate to those who are blind and sinners as You have loved us.

Ma Kou Inoa hemolele mākou e pule nei. ʻĀmene.

KS staffers share Lent devotionals for weeks four and five

The Hawaiian-focused Lent devotionals were created for KS students, families and others to reflect on the coming of Easter.

Kamehameha Schools envisions its learners to be grounded in Christian and Hawaiian values like KS founder Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

The devotionals were developed with guidance from Kapālama Kahu Kordell Kekoa, KS Maui Kahu Kalani Wong, KS Hawaiʻi Kahu Kaunaloa Boshard and KS Cultural Specialist Hauʻoli Akaka.

Look for devotionals from the following KS staffers in the weeks to come:

Chloe Keane
Literacy Resource Teacher

Hau‘oli Akaka
Cultural Specialist

The remainder of the devotionals will be posted to the KS I Mua Newsroom in the weeks leading up to Easter.