Pastoral Care

Paula Modersohn-Becker

Readings

Psalm 23 (NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Luke 10:25-37 (NLT)

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

Sermon by the Rev’d Jo Joyce

We are thinking today about pastoral care, what it is and what we might be called to do. But it’s a bit tricky because pastoral care isn’t actually mentioned in the bible directly, although there are many, many situations which I think could be described as coming under this heading. I have picked a few readings and verses but you might find others you think are more appropriate or that speak to you about the call on us all to care for one another.

I start today with a reading that we haven’t yet had but which I think sums up why we do pastoral care and what it looks like rather well. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

It sounds straightforward doesn’t it – love each other – but what does it mean? Who are the others we should be loving – why and how do we do this? After all we have love your neighbour on our signs about mask wearing but what is that really like?

Just as we have these questions so did those listening to Jesus. What does it mean to love one another, is that everyone, is it all linked to faith, do we have to do it, or is it just being nice? Well Jesus told them a story which we hear in our reading today.

That’s where the story of the good Samaritan comes in. Those who wanted to understand their faith – who wanted to be sure they were living as God wanted so they can be sure of eternal life asked Jesus what they should do. He responds the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbour as yourself. In other words, caring for those around us as we would want to be cared for is not a nice optional extra but an essential part of how we are to be people of God – second only to loving God is caring for those around us.

But who are they, they asked? So he told them the story of the Good Samaritan, so familiar to us today. We as God’s people are to love even when its difficult, and even when the person we are caring for is someone normally we would cross the road to avoid. All people are made in the image of God, and all deserve to be treated with care and dignity.

It goes beyond this, for we still retain that responsibility to care for family – honour your mother and father, and we see this clearly when from the cross Jesus asks John to care for his mother. And of course, he sees his disciples as family too.

So, then the care of those we know and love, and the care of strangers are both an important part of being Christian, its not an optional add on, to be left to those who are good at it or delegated because we don’t really like it, but something we are to treat as part of our Christian disciplines like prayer or bible reading. Now that will look different to each of us – I am not saying take the least pastoral person you know and make them undertake all of our pastoral care we should work to our strengths, rather I am saying that all of us have some level of pastoral responsibility to those around us, some of course will be clearly gifted and enjoy it and they should rejoice in and use those gifts – others might find just learning to listen a big pastoral leap – but we still should try with the smaller things to make a difference.

What might pastoral care look like then: well listening and taking notice of others I think is a good start – we can be so busy and wrapped up in life its hard to stop and really listen to each other, but I encourage you to try because nothing makes someone feel more loved than feeling really heard and understood.

Serving them, just as the good Samaritan cared for the injured man and John cared for Jesus mother – working to help those in need when we come across them, whether we are obliged to or not, seems important.

As much as anything I think both these stories demonstrate a coming alongside. And that’s where our reading from the psalms comes in.  In this God comes alongside us in deaths darkest valley, and in the same way as we are called to love others as Jesus did so are we called to come alongside in those dark places as he does. We might not have all or indeed any answers , but we can be a shoulder to cry on, someone to listen and to love through the darkest places – sometimes (like Job’s friends) we need to shut up and listen, to be present without judging. To hold alight the candle of the flame of faith for another when they can no longer do so themselves.

Pastoral care is mainly just about being human, and seeing the humanity in others, caring where there is need, noticing, listening, loving. In pastoral care we love as Jesus has loved us and we show the kindness and care of God for us all.

Prayers of Intercession written by Emili Lowry

We pray that Christ may be seen in the life of the Church.  You have called us into the family of those who are the children of God.  May our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ be strengthened by your grace.

Help us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and our neighbours as ourselves.

Jesus, our teacher and perfect example,
in your mercy hear our prayer

You have called us to be a temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell. Give us clean hands and pure hearts so that our lives will reflect your holiness. Help us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and our neighbours as ourselves.

Jesus, our teacher and perfect example,
in your mercy hear our prayer

You have called us to be a light to the world, so that those in darkness come to you.  Lord, give wisdom to the leaders in the church and in our government.  Show them how to support other countries and ours without taking advantage of those who are most vulnerable.  May all our lives shine as a witness to the saving grace you have given for all.

Help us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and our neighbours as ourselves.

Jesus, our teacher and perfect example,
in your mercy hear our prayer

You have called us to be members of your body, so that when one suffers, all suffer together.  Move our hearts to have the compassion of the good Samaritan.  Let your holy spirit direct us to give comfort and healing power to bring hope to those in distress.  Lord, help us to remember others as we want you to remember us when we meet you face to face.  

Lord God, we also pray you bring comfort to those leaving this earth and give peace to those returning home to heaven.  We pray you bless the families who have people they love, give your peace to them and their upcoming funerals.  May those who have passed, be at rest and rise in your glory.  

Help us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and our neighbours as ourselves.

Jesus, our teacher and perfect example,
in your mercy hear our prayer

You have called us into fellowship with all your saints.  We unite our prayers with theirs and ask for grace to serve you with joy where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for all eternity.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Closing Worship

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