West Point Grey United Church
Apr 07, 2024


John 20:19-31

About 30 years ago a woman by the name of Anne Herbert accidentally started a movement after doodling on a restaurant place mat in Sausalito, California. She scribbled the words “practising random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”. A man sitting nearby thought this was great and copied the words on his own placemat. In the following days and weeks it spread all over the world, and people everywhere were attempting to do and promote the idea of doing random acts of kindness.

People were doing things like…. Taking a beautiful plant into the local police station to brighten the environment; letting the person behind you in the grocery line go ahead of you; shovelling snow from a neighbour’s walk when no one was looking; leaving a generous tip for a waiter who has provided poor service; writing to an old school teacher to let her know what a difference she made to her students.

In a sense that is what our Christian faith is about. We are called to do thoughtful things for others regardless of whether they have done anything to earn our attention and care.

When the disciples were gathered in the upper room after the death and resurrection of Jesus, he appeared among them and said “Peace be with you – as the Father has sent me, so I send you” – and then he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

As followers of Jesus we have been given a challenge, a commission with power and authority to do good to others without judgement or criticism. We are given the privilege to actually make a difference in the lives of others. This all started in those days just after the first Easter when the followers of Jesus, full of joy and hope, shared with others the Good News that Jesus was alive and shared the company of his closest friends.

The early Christians believed they were walking in the light God gave them to practise kindness, forgiveness and love. Anne Herbert, following all the exposure she received from her “random acts of kindness”,  said that kindness can build on itself just as much as violence can. Reaching out to help others, or to forgive others, or to love others builds a healthy, positive community. The first believers came to believe that their acts of kindness brought people closer together, but also brought them into a healing relationship with God.

When we take our faith seriously, accepting the commission of Jesus to serve others, we can go forth to do good, to teach and heal, to forgive and raise up, to bless and to play, to feed and to liberate and to bring the Good News of God’s love to others.

And our acts of kindness and forgiveness should be ‘random’ in the sense that they should be dispensed generously and without regard to whether or not those around us deserve them. But they should never be ‘random’ in their motivation. They should all be done because we love God, and because God loves us.

And when they are done out of our love for God and our commitment to Him, the results of our acts of kindness and forgiveness and love are far from random and senseless. They are our thankful response to God’s loving presence in our lives, and they bring healing and forgiveness, faith hope and health to others.