“Interruption or Opportunity?”

“Jesus saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)

There has been a lot of grief going around during this pandemic which has touched all of our lives. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 14, Jesus sets a great example for us by both addressing his grief and acting upon opportunities for compassion all around him. The Scripture reading from Matthew focuses on Jesus feeding over 5,000 people (after healing them) and barely touches upon his grief. However, just a little bit of digging shows how deep his grief must have been. What we learn is that Jesus addressed his grief and did what he needed for healing to take place; and at the same time, he addressed the needs of the people around him because he saw their requests as opportunities rather than interruptions.

As I was watching the video of my message earlier today, I kept noticing the beautiful cross directly behind me made from Hawaiian koa by the local woodworker Frank Pullano. Within a few days after I told my mother that I had accepted the call to be the kahu at Kōloa Union Church back in 2014, she was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder. Two days after I moved into the parsonage, Mom found out that she only had a couple of months left because her cancer was very aggressive and was spreading quickly. I left a few days later to spend a week with her. It was the last time I saw her, as her death came quickly, as the doctor had said. In this time of grief, I wanted to do something for the church to honor her life—and my father’s life as well. I talked to Frank Pullano and he designed the cross specifically for the space in the church. I wanted to offer something to express how a simple symbol of grief—the cross of Jesus—can remind us that God understands our grief and at the same time add beauty to our worship services and sanctuary.

There are countless ways we can shift our perspective from interruption to opportunity. Whether the interruption is a global pandemic or someone popping in at an inconvenient time, opportunities abound. What gifts has God given you to share with others in your time of grief?

Aloha nui!

Kahu Alan Akana


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“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.

To see a video of this week’s worship service, including the message, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see previous worship services and many of Kahu’s past messages. You can subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.

You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.

Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.