Very sadly, I recently witnessed an accident. I had stopped at a pedestrian crossing and an elderly lady slowly crossed the road in front of my car. When she reached the other side she tripped on the kerb and fell cutting her head. My son and I stopped to help and within seconds several other people had also come running to help.
I was really touched by the amazing care and concern that was shown by so many people wanting to help this person in need. So many people talk down our country, saying that no one cares for each other but in this moment of concern I saw the greatness of the caring community that I live in.
I don’t know a lot about first aid and so I was encouraged that a trained first aider and an off duty paramedic arrived pretty quickly and they gave medical treatment while I phoned an ambulance. Thankfully there seemed to be a good blend of skills, experience and compassion amongst the people who gathered around.
Thinking about this since then it has occurred to me that in church life we like to organize and create rotas to get things done. In contrast to this, the way the group of people acted and cared was probably closer to the experiences of Jesus and the early church who were trying to minister to those around them rather than trying to run organisations. In the New Testament, I get the sense that there weren’t specialist pastoral teams or people only turning to paid church leaders for help but that everyone was expected to care for everyone else. We can all let others know we care and we can all help and listen in different ways, so why do we think that it is the job of just a few?
One of the people who came to help after the accident was a parent from the school that my daughter goes to. We had never talked before, but we have talked at the school gate since.
In church we often try to form friendships around talking in meetings but often it’s easier to get to know people when you work or help alongside them. This more hands on approach to growing relationships and care is probably also closer to how Jesus and the early church would have operated. We are currently looking at starting a new homegroup at Orchard which is more hands on. If it goes ahead, eating together and other activities will form a core part of how we grow together in friendship and faith. Everyone is free to try to spend time with others and to get to know them. How can we do this more, perhaps by inviting others to join us in what we are doing?
Once I had finished calling the ambulance there were so many people helping that I wasn’t needed and so I got on with driving my son to school before returning to make sure that everything was okay.
In church, some people can be very possessive of their groups or the people that they look after. I wonder if we need a more fluid approach? For example, I have always prioritized making pastoral visits to people who get visited the least by other church members. It just makes sense to me to let people get on with what they are doing and then to work in a different area that is perhaps being neglected. I also think that it is important for those of us who are church leaders to let go of areas of church life and to let others function in them. To express confidence in a team or group to meet without you is a great vote of confidence that will encourage them as long as they know that they have your support.
Great care was shown by people for a lady in need and I hope that churches can also have this same reputation for caring. I hope that our churches will continue to grow as loving communities and that they will be known as places that people can be cared for.
I think that churches should be caring places, but I am also grateful for the care and love that I see expressed each day by many different people regardless of their beliefs. My prayer is that our country would become an even more caring place.
I have been in touch with my local councillor since to see if we can get the pavement lowered to the same level as the road. As well as caring, sometimes we need to proactively try to make a difference.
How can we care for and try to make the world around us a better place today?