Our church has four words for its motto: welcoming, caring, seeking, sharing. They represent values we hold dear because they reflect our understanding of what God wants us to be.
What does it mean to care? It means more than to feel a certain way. It is also more than performing good deeds for others. To care is to incarnate Christ. To offer a cup of water, to feed and clothe, to wash the feet of someone—is to be the body of Christ in the world. It is our mission.
That means caring should be a community function. By that, I’m not suggesting that we’re not to care in individual ways because you know we are. I am saying that often overlooked is the power and ability that comes when we care as community.
There are several examples of this in the New Testament. The contribution Paul raises among the largely Gentile churches for the disciples in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-27). The examples Luke gives us of the church in Jerusalem taking care of its own (many who probably came to Jerusalem for Pentecost – Acts 2:5-11, and then stayed on to learn more about Christ – Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35). The Philippians sending Epaphroditus to minister to Paul when he was in prison (Philippians 2:25ff,4:14-18). This synergy of caring means that we can accomplish much more working together than we could as isolated individuals.
Stone Soup is one of those traditional tales that every culture seems to have its own version of. The one I’m familiar with has a group of hungry travelers entering a village with a large, empty cooking pot. When they ask the villagers for some food, no one wants to give them anything. They proceed down to the river where they fill the pot with water and put some stones in. Then they begin to boil the water. One by one, different villagers come by and want to know to know what they are cooking and if they can have any. The travelers are more hospitable than the townspeople and say they will gladly share their stone soup. Each villager though thinks the soup needs a little something extra and goes home to get it. One by one they do this until everyone has contributed. The result is the most wonderful soup that anyone has ever tasted and they all eat their fill.
And in the name of Jesus, hospitals, children’s homes, soup kitchens, shelters, treatment centers, disaster relief programs and the like have been raised up by disciples working together to provide care for others. As a result people have had treatment for their diseases, food for their stomachs, pillows for their heads, and the love of Christ for their hearts. All of this has happened because the people of God have come together in caring. That’s right—the same people who are shot full of shortcomings and weaknesses somehow managed (with the help of God), to get a few things right. For all her well publicized deficiencies, sometimes you just have to clear your throat and shout,
“WAY TO GO CHURCH!”