The Church Is a Caring Community 1 Peter 4: 7-11

An the Mountain EchoedKhaled Hosseini, the Afghan-American author of The Kite Runner has a new novel called, And the Mountains Echoed.  Hosseini tells of the post war return of two cousins, Idris and Timur Bashiri, to their childhood neighborhood in Kabul.  The men had become successful in the States; Idris, a medical doctor and Timur, an entrepreneur.  They are completely different persons: Idris a quiet, thoughtful and caring man; Timur a flamboyant person whose every action redounds to his own glory.

During their visit to Kabul, Idris discovers a girl with a terrible head injury suffered by an axe-wielding relative who killed every member of her family in a violent rage.  He knows she needs a surgery she can get only in the States.  He promises he’ll go back to America and send for her.

When he gets home, he’s drawn into his comfortable life.  His children are excited over the new entertainment system in their spacious house.  He makes a feeble appeal to his medical partners to see if they would help him bring her to their hospital to perform the surgery pro bono.  They refuse.  He quietly drops the matter and loses touch with the girl in Kabul.

Later, he finds himself in a bookstore where that girl is signing a book she has written about her experience of surgery and recovery.  He feels shame for failing to do what was once in his heart to do.  His shame is doubled as his wealthy cousin, Timur relishes in helping her and being her saving benefactor; instead he.Caution

We who have good intentions, but fail to follow through relate to this story.  Our hearts go out to hurting people, but we default to our cozy lives; finding reasons not to do what we really want to do.  Our failure to act on what our hearts feel has consequences; not just for those we don’t help, but for we, the reluctant ones too.  We need places and people who nurture our urges to offer our hearts, so we and our world can be healed.

This is third message in a series of seven sermons that looks how the church operates when we’re at our best.  We’re at our best when we’re a flourishing community of faith, deeply connected to Christ. We’re at our best when we’re a personal community of faith, calling people out of the shadows and into the fullness of life God intends.  Today, we say the church is at its best when we’re a caring community of faith; reminding each other of our humanity, so we might do what God puts on our hearts for the sake of the others and ourselves.

In 1 Peter we hear we’re to live as though the end is near.  Then, Peter says to maintain constant love for one another.  Love always means caring.  He says, be hospitable to each other without complaining, serve one another with our gifts, whatever kind of gifts we can give.  Peter is talking about the end of all things, but it can mean the end of life.  Being aware the end is near is crucial to caring.  When our sole purpose is to live for ourselves and today, we have a tendency to separate from others.  The pursuit for happiness that avoids paying the cost of caring for others ends up on a lonely dead end road; reaping what we have sown.

End is nighNo one calls their banker to bring their current balance sheet while on their death bed.  We don’t win the game of life by having more than our neighbors.  We call our families, friends, and loved ones when we are at the end life.  We hope they want to be there because our life mattered to them because we cared deeply for each other.  Our lives will only matter if we have lived a caring live.  This is why we need the church to be at its best; it reminds all of us we are humans in need of human care.

The Science Center at University of California, Berkley researched what makes people happy.  According to the study, being liked, offering kindness, and having empathy are some of the primary traits that make people happy.  They found these experiences connect us to people, which is the primary force behind happiness.  They say, one of the best ways connect to people is to act on our empathy and help a person in need.  Participants in the study claimed this made them feel happiest.

This study spoke of two primary findings.  First, the less a person has, the more they care.  Second, the more we care, the happier we are.  The researchers explained saying, “When persons don’t have much, they are more aware how fragile life is.  So, when someone else is vulnerable, they are more likely to connect to person in need.”Center for Greater Good

This multi-year study confirmed the writings of both the Old and New Testaments.  They found no evidence money makes people happy.  In fact, they found money disconnects people; cutting them off from the source of happiness, being connected to persons we can help.  They said, persons who spend a high degree of energy pursuing materialistic goals tend to be less empathetic, more unwilling to contribute to a cause, and less likely to offer acts of kindness, which makes them less likable.  They deduce, the more we have, the more isolated we’re from person’s needs.

The facts remain; poor people give about twice the percentage of their income to charitable causes than wealthier people.  People who have less tend to give to charities that help people, while people who have more tend to give to arts and culture entities.  An example, Dallas County has a fabulous arts district which I relish in and enjoy, but our public schools struggle.  Let’s not demonize the wealthy or make the poor divine.  We care for each other because we want the poor to get wealthier, and the wealthy to get happier.  All of us need to nurture our need to care in way we truly connect to each other and to each other’s needs.  We all have needs and we all want to be happy.

Many Members One BodyThe reason we exist together in a community of faith is our common faith in Christ Jesus.  Rich and poor are baptized in the same manner.  Material possessions don’t get us an honored place in the church.  Instead, we honor one another by caring for each other equally.  A church is at its best when she raises awareness to all the ways we can care for others by being in caring relationships with each other in our community and our a community of faith.

That is why we read together the story of Good Samaritan who cares for the man in distress and know that both rich and poor can do the same.  That is why we read together the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor”, and we can’t deny all are poor in spirit.  That is why we read the story of the miracle at Cana, as Jesus’ mother cares so much about the humiliation of the host who runs out of wine that she insists Jesus do something; causing us to desire to be more like Jesus who performed the miracle in private; protecting the dignity of the host.  These shared stories and others inspire us to equally care for others in need without bringing glory to ourselves or shame to those in need; respecting others as much as we respect ourselves.Happy People

There are many ways FUMC, Irving people care for needs.  Classes and small groups make phone calls, visits, and casseroles; sharing life’s joys and sorrows together.  Some walk beside a person as a spiritual friend; holding them up until their strength returns.  Some do odd jobs, driving to doctors’ appointments, picking up prescriptions, or fixing something that is broke.  There is hardly a single day that a person from FUMC Irving is not volunteering at Irving Cares.  The people of the church engage in caring work all over this community and across the world.  Many of you offer care in ways we will never know about at the church.  Each time we enter more deeply into caring relationships with others, we fulfill our spiritual duty and are filled with spiritual joy at the same time.  We’re at our best when we care in these life sustaining and sometimes life changing ways.

We’re proud to be a part of a caring community of faith that cares for those in our community around us as we care for each other.  We feel not only pride at the way we offer spiritual care for all.  Don’t forget, caring for each other also makes us happier; that is why the church is at its best when it’s a caring community of faith.

Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 6:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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