Los Alamos Church of Christ
In Matthew chapter 9 there is a series of stories emphasizing Jesus as the ultimate Caregiver.
--A woman with a bleeding problem fights her way through the crowd to touch his robe. The power flows from Jesus. She is healed. That which was broken is made whole.
--Jesus interrupts a group of mourners to step into the room of a precious daughter. He takes the dead girl’s hand…“Little girl get up!” she does.
--Jesus intersects two blind guys…”Have mercy on us.” “Do you believe?” “Yes! Lord.” Jesus touched their eyes… they could see.
--Then there is a mute/demon possessed guy who is made whole! “Never was anything like this seen in Israel!”
Jesus, the ultimate caregiver… touches what is broken. Jesus, the ultimate caregiver, makes it whole!
Then, at the end of Matthew chapter 9, after all of these interactions with broken being made whole, we have a summary statement of Jesus as Caregiver…
ESV Matthew 9:35-38 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
I have always thought of this verse as we ought to go out into the world preaching the gospel; the harvest of lost people need to hear of Jesus. But the context of this passage is not seeking the lost, but caring for the harassed, the helpless and the shepherdless! The point of the end of chapter 9 is a prayer from Jesus for the LORD of the harvest to send out… caregivers!
Jesus sees the crowds… they are… harassed; helpless; shepherdless. Jesus has compassion for them.
--That feeling in his stomach connects to these marginalized.
--That empathy in this heart hurts for the broken.
--That seeing others made in the image of God but broken by disease.
--That desire to fix what is wrong… moves Jesus to pray…” Lord of the harvest, send out caregivers!”
Two weeks ago I administered the Caregiver Temperament Test. We scored well. We have 12 full-blown genuine caregivers in our midst. We should say to these caregivers… “I love you.” We also have 30 specialized caregivers. There are five specialized categories of caregivers…
--Minister Caregivers. People who connect to God through actual hands-on helping. Those who help when others who are unable to help themselves. They touch the hurting.
--Counselor Caregivers. These caregivers are wired to listen. If you have a problem these are the ones you want to get advice. They touch the harassed with their eyes.
--Servant Caregivers. These are the ones who do stuff. If you need something fixed you call a servant. If you are stuck in a ditch they come pull you out… literally and metaphorically. They often help even if no one knows what they did it. Something needs to get done… they do it.
--Hospitality Caregivers. In their presence you feel welcome. You want to spend time doing things with them. These are people who energize others. Their hugs are warm.
--Giver Caregivers. They give money. They give what is needed. They are generous. They may or may not be there to help, but they provide the resources needed to accomplish the job.
After taking the Caregiving Temperament Test we have 12 general, 30 specialized. If you have taken the test since we all took it together… let me know if you score over 70 on the general or over 70 on the specific. If you have not taken the Caregiver Temperament Test… take it and let me know your scores. I will add them to the totals.
Let’s find out which of these 5 categories we have over 70… (write down which are over 70.) We may be able to use these scores to plot some strategy for our congregation… Where we are weak and where we have strength.
This morning I want to move us a little deeper into the how the Caregiver Temperament touches others.
Two weeks ago, Ehab Taha, a 26-year-old from Canada, was riding on the subway in Vancouver, when a large man he described as “suffering from drug abuse and\or mental health issues” became aggressive in his car.
The man was alarming fellow passengers “with erratic movements, cursing, shouting” until a 70-year-old woman reached out her hand and grabbed his. This sweet gesture soothed the man. Eventually, he sank to the floor of the train as tears flooded his eyes.
"It was quite incredible how much he calmed down in a split moment,” Taha said. “It was the most touching thing I've ever seen.”
Moved by “the incredible display of humanity,” Taha snapped a picture of the two holding hands and posted it to Facebook.
Wait a second. In Matthew 9 Jesus touched… the bleeding woman and the dead girl and the blind guys. We already saw two weeks ago Jesus touched/hugged a leper. There is power in the touch of Jesus. This 70 year-old woman used the power of touch to still this guy’s heart.
Caregivers touch… often physically; often emotionally, often through serving, often warmly, often financially… but here is the point… caregivers need, also, to touch spiritually…
This year the theme is Connections. Our goal for the year is to find sweet spots of worship. In caregiving, these sweet spots of worship come though touch.
--It is amazing when we reach out to touch another physically;
--It is amazing when we reach out to touch another emotionally,
--It is amazing when we reach out to touch another through serving,
--It is amazing when we reach out to touch another warmly, or even financially…
But it becomes a sweet spot when we touch spiritually… when we touch Jesus.
ESV Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
I don’t know anything more about the subway story than what I read. If the 70 year-old woman just calmed the guy with her touch, it was amazing. But if she saw Jesus in the eyes of this disturbed man, and as an act of worship she gripped his hand… how… much… more… amazing. When caregivers touch Jesus, spiritually, there is connection!
That is the trick. That is what we are all about this year. That is the challenge of 2016. We not only give care to the hurting… we touch Jesus in worship as we touch the harassed, the hurting, and the shepherdless!
So, I have an assignment…
In just a moment, form a group of a half-a-dozen people or so around you. Come up with 2 suggestions in each of the five categories of Caregivers… Make them doable, this week, in Los Alamos. After coming up with these 10 suggestions, you are going to pick one.
Often there needs to be spontaneity in caregiving. The caregiver is ready. The 70 year-old subway lady responded in the moment. But, for the purposes of this exercise… pick something you can intentionally do this week. You can use the page in your notebook. I will give you 4 minutes to come up with 10 suggestions. Brainstorm fast.
Share one with the whole congregation, if it is a good one. Pick one amongst your group. Tell the others what you are going to do. You could do it for someone in your group. We are going to check next week.
Write down the challenge you have given to yourself at the bottom of the page.
Here is the thing. You are not just doing this for the sake of the person you are doing it for. You must remember to do it for Jesus; in worship of Jesus; in order to find the sweet spot of worship. The point of the exercise is not to do it. The point of exercise is to touch Jesus. As you do your assignment… touch Jesus!
Here are the benefits of learning to be a caregiver who touches Jesus… beyond the actual help given.
1) You bring glory to the Father. Every father is honored when their children are cared for. I am proud when my kids are honored. YHWH is glorified when his son is served.
2) You are transformed. In giving you become like Christ. Jesus, the ultimate caregiver, calls to the LORD of harvest to send forth caregivers… you can be changed through touching Jesus.
3) You can find sweet spots of worship. How precious it is to learn to worship as you are wired.
4) You become persistent. If you serve in order to touch Jesus, you are never disappointed. The lack of appreciation from people, the lack of results, the whining from those who are helped, the disappointments diminish because you are touching Jesus. Therefore, you can be persistent.
ESV Matthew 6:1-4 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Sometimes people do know you are helping them, sometimes not. Jesus’s point is it doesn’t matter… the point is your Father knows… You Father is blessed…. Your Father is worshipped. Your Father is touched! That is what matters. You are rewarded by the Father in glory.
You have your assignment. Go forth and give care!
But before you leave… Stand and join me in reciting The Shema…
ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
My temperament is God’s gift to me.
My temperament is my gift to God.
My temperament is my gift to the body.
My temperament is my gift to the world.
March 6, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ