Sermon Sunday 19<sup>th</sup> - we get by with a little help from our friends.
I’m sure we’re all familiar with that old (and thankfully outdated) saying, “children should be seen and not heard…” that would certainly have been the case in Jesus’ day.
However, he says, no, the exact opposite. Christian calling is to tend to one another, and be especially on the lookout for those who are more needy, more vulnerable, those who might be often overlooked. Welcome them. Care for their needs.
And of course, the other week we pondered Jesus and the woman’s conversation, when she begged healing for her daughter, about dogs eating the scraps from under the table… dogs being even more “worthless” and overlooked than children.
Now I’ve not raised a child, but I have raised a puppy.
Caring for a tiny young being, who is reliant on you to provide for it’s needs, and not only that but to anticipate those needs too. When will it next be feeding time… toilet time… play time… rest time… social time… exercise time.
And to be honest, we don’t really change that much as adults either. We still have those basic needs.
When life inevitably gets complicated – because that’s what life does – when there’s an impact on health, money, family, work, housing, whatever… it can be harder to meet those needs. And often those struggles anyone of us may face at some point in life, can be pretty invisible on the outside. Particularly when we’re so used to putting on the brave face and a stiff upper lip!
Which is why it’s important to put our Jesus-vision on, and pay closer attention to those around us… people we know, and people we don’t.
Scripture is full of encouragement… or even dare I say orders… to ‘build up one another’. To put aside difference. To lift up the brokenhearted. To care for the unloved.
To welcome and to care for those who we otherwise might just pass by…
of course not ignored them maliciously, but just because we’ve not noticed.
Being a Christian community is about truly noticing that every human being, every one of our neighbours (whoever they are, however near or far) as children.
We have the same needs. And not “just” children, but we are all children of God.
Loved by God. Precious to God. So seeing people and caring for them with that love.
And when someone does notice that need, we can get by with a little help from our friends.
Maybe we also can be encouraged to consider our own needs too – where could we do with a little help, and perhaps take the step to be vulnerable and ask for a hand.
But this isn’t stuff we do as individuals. We’re not left on our own to do that.
They say it takes a village to raise a child… in the same way a church community can as a whole be the loving presence of God with a heart for every person in our villages.
As different members making up the body of Christ, every single one of you here has your own ministry of care – your own unique ways of being, different people you know, different networks …
What an amazing patchwork of different opportunities and ways to minister – to care for and love – those whose paths cross yours.
Which then takes me round to a more personal note for today.
I’m so grateful to have crossed paths with you all for this time, and having been on the receiving end of this care and ministry you all have given in looking after me over the past 3 years.
Perhaps we can also say never mind a village raising a child, “it takes a whole benefice to raise a curate.”
It’s been a privilege to be part of this community of churches and villages, and to try and do my part of ministering and caring as best as I could.
Part of the prayer attributed to St Francis says “it is in giving to all, that we receive…”
And it has truly been a great gift to both serve as curate, and receive all your kindness.
So thank you for all your nurturing and care along the way, and particularly Alison and Wardens in all the formal and practical things, in helping a newly-ordained curate grow and become fully fledged, as I fly off to my new ministry.
So thank you all, it’s been a blessing to travel this part of the journey with you.
I pray you all will continue blessing those around you with your generosity and care.
I am so grateful to have got by with more than a little help, from my friends here.