Words of Hope

Core Value: Care

Why should I even care?

Adapted from a sermon at First United Methodist Church of Orlando.

Last week in Confirmation, we talked about the Wesley Quadrilateral. This is a toolbox to help us better know God. It is a process based upon some of John Wesley’s teachings. We start with Scripture, then use reason, experience, and tradition to help us understand our faith.

Following Wesley’s lead, we’ll start with Scripture. Today we’re looking at Psalm 24:1–6 (CEB):

1 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants too.
2 Because God is the one who established it on the seas;
God set it firmly on the waters.
3 Who can ascend the Lord’s mountain?
Who can stand in his holy sanctuary?
4 Only the one with clean hands and a pure heart;
the one who hasn’t made false promises,
the one who hasn’t sworn dishonestly.
5 That kind of person receives blessings from the Lord
and righteousness from the God who saves.
6 And that’s how things are
with the generation that seeks him —
that seeks the face of Jacob’s God.

Often when I’m assigned to preach, I listen to the Pulpit Fiction podcast. This weekly show features two pastors exploring scripture in a deeper way. It’s like a Biblical commentary you can listen to in the car. Commentaries are part of Tradition in Wesley’s Quadrilateral.

Richard Bruxvort Colligan, in the Pulpit Fiction episode exploring Psalm 24, explains that this Psalm breaks into three parts. The first part, comprised of verses one and two, act as a Call to Worship. David, the author of the Psalm, brings the reader in and focuses on matters of the mind:

1 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants too.
2 Because God is the one who established it on the seas;
God set it firmly on the waters.

Everything in creation is the Lord’s. Not just people, but the environment, the animals, the seas… everything. This is something to wrap our mind around. God doesn’t just care for you and me, but God cares for everything in Creation.

The second portion of the Scripture, according to Richard Colligan, is a quick sermon on ethics. David is telling the reader what’s important in this world by appealing to the heart:

3 Who can ascend the Lord’s mountain?
Who can stand in his holy sanctuary?
4 Only the one with clean hands and a pure heart;
the one who hasn’t made false promises,
the one who hasn’t sworn dishonestly.
5 That kind of person receives blessings from the Lord
and righteousness from the God who saves.
6 And that’s how things are
with the generation that seeks him —
that seeks the face of Jacob’s God.

David explains the Lord welcomes into his presence those who seek the Lord and maintain a pure heart. This is a matter of the heart: are we focusing on the Lord’s teachings and celebrating his blessings? Or are we being dishonest and breaking promises to those around us?

The final section of the scripture, which we won’t read today, is a call to action. What are we going to do with this information?

That leads us to the Core Value for today: Care.

I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about what it means to care. Utilizing the reason portion of Wesley’s Toolbox, I’ve explored ways that we as a church care for others and I have been cared for.

I spent Friday morning with a handful of Blankner students for our monthly Devo’s and Donuts. I asked the group why should we care for other people. It’s simple question but gets to the heart of this Core Value. One student raised her hand and explained that caring for others is a reflection of Jesus’s love. If we really love other people, then we’ll care for them.

The Core Value defines Care using actions. According to David who wrote Psalm 24, we’re drawn into worship, given an ethics lesson, and then compelled to act. We’re compelled to care about the Lord’s creation.

Core Value: Care

We are called to use our resources to care for each other and the environment. We visit the sick and imprisoned, we embrace the poor, we work for the oppressed and homeless, and we walk together through hard times. These are clear ways that we, as Christians, answer the call to care for the spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, and environmental well being of creation.

Action defines this Core Value: Are we visiting the sick and imprisoned? Are we embracing the poor? And it’s not just a Core Value for the church community, Care is a Core Value for each of us individually as evidenced in David’s Psalm. So we have to ask the questions of ourselves too: Am I working for the oppressed and homeless? Am I walking with those going through hard times?

This is where we turn to Experience in the Quadrilateral. With the Blankner students, we talked about how we can show care for different groups of people. The first really starts with ourselves.

Over the years, I’ve led workshops for youth ministers on self care. When we are overworked and overstressed, we can fall into the unfriendly waters of burnout. One of the signs of burnout is that we stop caring. It’s easy to just give up and not care about others. To combat this, we have to be sure to care for ourselves with ways to destress. Me, I like yoga. You’ll need to find what works for you. When we’re able to care for ourselves, then we can start caring for others.

The next level of caring for others that I discussed with the Blankner students is caring for people in our immediate circles. Our family, friends, coworkers. These are people we see everyday. Caring for them typically comes naturally. We have a relationship of some sort with them and want to see them happy.

The next group is people in our surrounding community. People we might pass in the grocery store or on the street. People we might not have any interaction with unless we stop and pause.

Our church has a long history of caring for the homeless. From opening the doors of the Fellowship Hall leading to creating the Coalition for the Homeless to individual stories of success through our Community Connection ministry.

I’ve seen a group of people surround a now formerly homeless man, providing compassion and care for years. They’ve celebrated birthday’s, cleaned his apartment, provided food, and even helped walk with this man through the legal system. Just a week ago, after four years of work, they could celebrate full SSI benefits finally being legally awarded. This act of compassion and care embodies this Core Value.

This week’s curriculum guide tells the story of how our church cared for those following the Pulse tragedy two years ago. The church opened its doors for those who needed a place to find comfort, water, and healing. We continue to do so.

These are all ways that we, as a church body, have cared for those in our surrounding community. Ways that we’ve tried to show the love of Christ to those we encounter.

The next circle of people to care for, is people that we might meet once or won’t have any interaction with. People all across the globe.

On the other side of the Pulse story is how I received care in the midst of the tragedy. When news broke that Sunday morning, I was in the Dominican Republic with a group of our 11th and 12th grade students. As the news poured into my phone, we were sitting in a worship service with a community we just met.

After the service, the pastor of the church welcomed us into her home for lunch. This lunch was planned weeks before the news broke, but turned into more than just a hospitable meal. The pastor knew this tragedy was unfolding in our backyard, just blocks from where several of the kids lived and went to school. She cared for us in her home, surround by her family, with a time to grieve, watch the news, and find comfort through a community of christian strangers. That outpouring of care is something I will never forget.

David’s Psalm calls us to act based on our desire to seek the Lord. We must care for all of creation.

Jesus’s echos this call to care in his statement of Judgement captured in Matthew. We’re called to care for each other. We’re to bring hope to those whom hope is hard to find. That includes the large circle of people we’ll have little interaction with all the way down to the people sitting right next to us.

This past week myself and the rest of the church staff took part in two full days of database training. We’re moving to a new church-wide system that will allow the congregation to be more connected to each other. And while that is exciting, it was something completely unrelated the trainer said that stood out to me.

He said in any community, it’s up to the people to notice when someone is missing. He explained in the church world, if someone doesn’t make it one week, that’s not out of the norm. People get sick, have a soccer game to attend, or whatever it is.

However, he explained that if no one notices that person was missing after week one, then it’s easy for them to opt not to show up in week two. “No one texted or tweeted to say they missed me? No one ran into me in the grocery store and said oh, saw you weren’t at church? Maybe I’ll sleep in. Or maybe I’ll go to that restaurant I’ve been meaning to try.”

If, after the second week, no one notices the person has been absent and week three rolls around, the person will most likely say “I’m out.”

If we don’t notice when the people around us are missing, if we don’t provide care and compassion to our community, how can we even attempt to provide care and compassion for those we don’t know? I’ll admit I’m not the best for following up when people have been out for a few weeks. It’s something I need to work on. But it’s up to all of us to show care for each other.

The challenge for this week is to show care for God’s creation. Something new. Something different.

We’ll each have to define what that means. Is it noticing someone missing today and following up with them? Does it mean sending a letter as part of Bishop Carter’s 5,000 Letters campaign to end gun violence? Does it mean planting and tending to a garden to cultivate life and potentially feed those who are hungry? We need to answer that question for ourselves.

According to David’s Psalm, the Lord blesses those who are honest, just, and seek the face of the Lord. Let that call to action help us all care more for the unique creations we encounter every day.

Written by

Co-Founder of The Writing Cooperative ➡️ Connect at JustinCox.com.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store