He Cares, We Care
It’s confession time.
On Friday’s (My Day off) I don’t dress like a pastor and I do this on purpose. I mean I love you all, but on Friday’s I try to turn my brain off, recover, rest and do simple things. In other words I avoid deep, heavy, life changing conversations. On Friday’s when I leave the house I throw on some jeans, a flannel shirt, Birkenstocks and last of all, the most important part of my wardrobe, a baseball cap pulled down low. This combination of clothing usually serves as a suitable secret identity. This is my Clark Kent or Peter Parker if you will.
A few Friday’s ago I had wandered into the Grocery store, hat pulled down low, to pick up a few items. The store was like a mine field of St. John’s members. It seemed like in every isle, every corner of the store there was someone I knew, who would call me their Pastor. After a few minutes of strategically walking down certain isles and picking my way through the store, I turned the corner and “Bam”, right there was a familiar face. I looked at them and smiled and wondered if my disguise would bail me out as it has so many previous Friday’s. But with a huge smile and a warm hug I was greeted. “Pastor Guy!”
Sheepishly I smiled and returned the hug and said, “How are you? I haven’t seen you forever? ” As if stabbed in the gut, their body stiffened and they recoiled away from me. To my surprise the smiling face that had come in for a hug was no longer smiling. I would describe the face I was looking at as “guilty”. And my suspicion was confirmed when they said, “You know I have been busy, it’s been crazy at home and I know I haven’t been in church for a while, but I plan on….” I immediately tried to explain, “No, No I didn’t mean… I was just making small…I just haven’t seen you…”
None of these started sentences did anything to restore the smile, ease the guilt and I finally just gave up and said, “Yeah you’re right. You should be in church. I will see you this weekend right?” You know, I didn’t mean to convict the person and make them feel guilty for not being in church. My words were meant to be caring and they came across as condemning.
Here is what I must confess. After that conversation I gave up on the grocery store. I pulled my hat down low and walked out of the store. I did not want to run into another person who would feel guilty by my mere presence. For this I repent, because this was wrong.
I think we all do this. We avoid messy situations, stressful situations, brokeness in life. We pull down our hats low and keep on walking thinking to ourselves, “Just don’t make eye contact.” We want people to see us as caring, but are scared to death we might be seen as condemning, so we just don’t say anything. But is it actually caring to knowingly let people walk into danger, without crying out a warning? Without saying, “Yeah your right. You should be in church. I will see you this weekend right?”
What I realized later is this is exactly who this person needed me to be, even if they didn’t want me to be. This is exactly how they needed me to care for them, whether I felt like it or not. And maybe most convicting in this experience was realizing they need me to be this every day, even on my day off. Just as they need you to be this for them as well. There is no day off for us in this work of Caring for one another in faith.
I think this is probably the best way to introduce St. John’s newest care ministry, He Cares, We Care , that the Spiritual Health Ministry Team is introducing to the congregation. I would like you to read the attached ministry description and take a moment to listen to the audio file of the Chair of the Spiritual Health Ministry Team, Dan Peterson’s introduction of this ministry to the congregation a few weeks ago.
And lastly I want you to reflect on the past, as I have and join me in repentance, for the times we have pulled our hats down low and walked past a messy, sticky situation, saying to ourselves, “Don’t make eye contact.” Join me in turning from this, to doing what the Lord has called us to and warns us of in Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Join your brothers and sisters in faith in the work of caring for those in need, whatever their need may be.
Pastor Guy Roberts
CLICK HERE for Ministry Description and Dan Peterson's Audio Presentation.