A message from LCANZ Bishop John Henderson
In ‘Life Together’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, ‘Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out.’
Today, as in Bonhoeffer’s day, we hear too much talk about important people as though they are the ones to be admired and followed. The loudest, most influential voices, those with their name up in lights and large followings on social media – we are told to be like them. We even have a new category for some of these non-productive, illusory people. They are called ‘influencers.’
But what if it’s all a lie? What if true greatness and genuine authority is something else entirely? What if it’s in hearing, helping, bearing, and being a servant? How would that change our world? How would it change us?
There have always been many servants among us who are not well known, and do not seek to be. They are known only to those for whom they care, and sometimes, because they work in the background, not even then. It could be a family member or friend. It could be a client or a complete stranger.
God is in such caring relationships. Caring for one another is not only the backbone of our society and our church, it’s how God chooses to be with us. God is here in and through our care for one another, more than he is in our grandiose plans and sweeping assurances.
Caring and sharing is ‘granular’. It is particular; it attends to the small things. In those small things, great things and even unimaginable things, can happen. A life can be changed. A soul can be raised from the dead. A life in darkness can suddenly light up.
Caring is not a single act, a single organisation, or a single process. It is a matrix, like a web, that holds the world together. Governments and institutions focus on programs, projects and budgets, because that’s what they can see, that’s what they can manage. The individuals and communities who do the caring, however, and those who support them, are not so bound. They see the person, loved by God but often unappreciated or unsupported. They provide opportunities for connection, reaching out without coercion, giving without expecting anything in return. This is the way of Christ in the world, both consciously and unconsciously. He is alive among his people.
It’s a wonderful thing that the LCANZ has resolved to mark ‘Christian Care Sunday’. It is an even better thing that the love of Christ compels us to care for one another fully, giving ourselves for each other as he has given himself for us.
There we will find our true selves, and our true authority, which is to love one another with the same love we have in Christ. May we always thank God for those who have cared for us in life, as we too, in our turn, care for others.