The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

By the time you read next week’s ‘blurb’ my grandson will be born and probably be at home surrounded by his family and his Nanna. (Yes, Charlotte will be there – of course!) I write this trusting God that all will go well for the birth which is a natural process but not without its concerns. Pregnancy, as I remind seminarians, is not an illness for all the links with doctors, hospitals and medicine that happen. But it is a special time for mother and baby – for the family around them – and the extended relationships – and if you can sense the widening circles – for town, county, country and for the world. It is estimated that, at this present time, there are between 350,000 – 360,000 births each day. Each birth is special. You want to protect all babies and mothers. You want them all to be safe and happy, well nourished and living in peace and security. But at this moment, my focus is on one mother and one baby, whom God brings into my life and says, ‘Care for them; look after them.’ That is how God works – one person at a time. You know whom you look at to care similarly.

Now if a baby is left on my doorstep, so to speak, I don’t walk over the little one and look down and say, ‘Find your parents, kid’. You deal with what God puts in front of you – next to you – whether by your choice or by circumstance – for we are called by Jesus to serve.

Pastor Steve and Debbie are foster parents and in the space of a few hours earlier this week they were looking after two children – 4 and 7 years old – who were put before them by the welfare system. Yes, they had ‘signed up’ so to speak but it is still a shock when there’s a phone call, a knock on the door, and someone is before you in need. What to do? Whatever is in the best interests of the person.

Today we live within numerous relationships of family and citizenship. We live between ‘help begins at home’ and social welfare systems in each country that can be quite different in detail but overall have the goal of helping the vulnerable. There are all sorts of intersections of identity, family, state, politics, economic structures, philosophies going on plus there are people’s behaviour as well – for good and for ill – so it can be quite a minefield working out how to live – we don’t want to be callous to those around us and we don’t to burn out in despair at all the need.

I have no solutions! (Sorry.) But I do think of the old adage ‘grow where you are planted’ and ‘God places us in relationships’ can guide our behaviour. (Remember relationships always guide our behaviour.) The Early Church was noticed by the world around them because they didn’t make sense to the world – they loved each other and helped and supported each other – and the world couldn’t work out why. (These Christians are different classes, professions, nationalities – but they say they are all one in Christ.) And then the Christians also cared for their neighbour – no matter who they were – Jew, Greek, Roman, friend, foe – because they said that was what their Lord – their Jesus – told them to do – for free! Yes, we live in a very different world now – an interconnected cyber world too – but I think the tasks are still the same. Serve those in your relationships – eg. family. Serve your neighbours – those whom God puts ‘in front of you’ whomever they be. Pray for all. And that’s a picture of the Body of Christ still loving Planet Earth. GS