Yet it was an appropriate week to talk about kindness. For my father-in-law David, who went to be with the Lord 3 days before I taught Sunday School, was one of the kindest people I knew.
Many people have shared their stories of David and Audrey's quiet, gentle, practical loving-kindness: a young man who lived with them after moving from the country, a woman who ate many meals in their house while suffering through churchly disapproval after a marriage breakdown, a student who enjoyed David's cooking during many Christian camps hosted at their bush property.
In the mind-numbing tiredness of grief, I found it difficult to prepare last week's lesson, but I won't quickly forget what I learned about kindness: a simple yet profound quality, which forgets self and cares for the needs of others.
I was frantically trying to decide which Bible story to teach, when I noticed how often the word "kindness" appears in the book of Ruth (2:13, 20; 3:10).
And yes! There it was! The story of Ruth, a humble woman who quietly cared for the needs of her mother-in-law Naomi. The story of Boaz, a faithful man who served his God by leaving the left-over gleanings of his harvest for the poor, and who took pity on Ruth and gave her food and protection.
I made one of those "televisions" where you paste pictures from a story on a scroll, roll it onto two sticks inside a box with one side cut out for a "screen", and turn the sticks to show each scene as you tell the story:
The children, appropriately enough, made pictures, letters and cards for people in need: a sponsor child, a sick brother, and, in the case of my son Ben, a grieving grandmother. He drew himself with his arms around her.
I can think of few better ways to honour David's memory than to offer the gift of kindness this week. But this humble man would have asked you instead to "honour God" by being "kind to the needy" as you imitate the "kindness and love of God our Saviour" in Christ Jesus our Lord (Prov. 14:31; Tit. 3:4).
Kindness: a friendly smile, a hospitable meal, an encouraging word, a visit to someone lonely, a gift for someone in need, a meal cooked for a grieving friend (believe me, they need it!). How many ways can you think of to show kindness this week?
*Ever told a bunch of kids how kind Ruth was to marry Boaz (Ruth 3:10) instead of running after all the younger men? Don't bother!