Vital Signs

Caring for Ourselves, Our Neighbors and Our World

During Lent, Rev Rob Stewart offers a 7-part series about the Vital Congregations Initiative entitled “7 Marks of Vital Congregations”. This is the sixth installment, which focuses on caring relationships.

John 13:5-9

Then Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Acts of caring are born in a compassionate heart. Faith and love bear fruit and bring forth caring. “We love because God first loved us.” Love is our motivation. The love that we have experienced leads us into expressing love ourselves.

When Jesus washes the feet of his friends, he acts not only out of compassion but also out of a demonstration of the role of all genuine people of God. We are called to be servant leaders who joyfully care, bringing comfort, giving value, and bestowing worthiness to others. We love because we have been loved and we know what a wondrous, life-giving, and beautiful thing it is.

As followers of Jesus, our calling is to follow in his footstep, to do as he did. By fulfilling our vocation, we further the reign of God as well as the reach of the church. Churches that embrace caring as a keystone of their ministry find that offering comes back to bless them many times over. As a seed, planted in good soil, brings forth many more grains, so do our acts of love.

Churches that love others welcome those who come through their doors with hospitality and warmth as they provide a safe and beautiful place to worship and they serve. Churches that care become communities of welcome, where all are considered Children of God and citizens of God’s domain. Intentionally being on the alert to the needs of strangers shows forth this priority.

Churches making a genuine effort to reach out to their neighborhoods with care, with an observant eye, a listening ear, and helping hands make friends. And as people pass by during the week, how great it would be if this thought goes through their minds: “kind, loving people of God meet there!”

May it be our goal to build a strong, clear, loving reputation as a place of genuine welcome and warm hospitality.

Churches in mission care for the world God so loves (John 3: 16-17). Churches do mission, expend resources, make sacrifices because they care for God’s people. How good it is for everyone whenever a church makes love visible and tangible for those who need it.

Beloved, since God loves us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:11-12

May those who see our love, see God. And may that love and care and kindness bring all the earth into perfect harmony.

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