I NEED HELP — 4th Sunday after Pentecost

“I Need Help” – Matthew 10:40-42


The question that comes to my mind as I read over this passage from the Gospel is “Where does the caregiver receive care?” .  The passage is about the disciples going out on an urgent message to proclaim by word and example the good news of God’s great love for the world as seen in Jesus Christ. However, the ones that are sent out are also dependent on others for hospitality and to be cared for by others along the way.  I think that to be welcomed, received and given refreshment by others is so important in our work, then why is it so hard for those who give help to accept the help of others?  I know many people who love to give gifts but are embarrassed to the point of being tongue-tied when they receive a gift. Our relationship with God often begins with realizing our great need for God.  Our relationship with God is maintained and grows through the help of others in the Christian community. Constantly in our Christian witness in the community at large, if we are to truly live our faith, we need to admit, “I Need help”.

Many years ago when I my previous marriage was breaking down, I felt that I needed to resign from the parish where I had been Rector for only a short time.  I really didn’t share what we as a family were going through with the members of the parish.  I also thought that my effectiveness as a Pastor would be adversely affected if I had stayed in the parish during the breakup of our marriage.  Later, a very wise woman in the parish said to me, “It is too bad that you didn’t stay in the parish.  It would have been good for the people of the parish to minister to you and your family during this difficult time, and it would have been good for you to realize the support of a caring community.”  How true that is!

Years later after arriving as Rector of St Philips-By-The-Sea in Lantzville B.C., a dear friend of over twenty years died in a tragic car accident in the Vancouver area.  I ministered to the remaining family as best I could, taking the ferry to the mainland a few times over the period following the accident.  I ended up doing the difficult task of conducting my friend’s funeral.  This time I shared my feelings and difficulties with the congregation and they were with me for the whole nine yards.  Later I received a letter from a dear member who said in part, “Thank you for sharing your life with us and allowing us to care for you”. This type of hospitality was so important for me at that time, and the sharing of that suffering, bonded us together in a way that lasted throughout my ministry there.

There are many times that we need to admit, “I need help” and allow others to minister to us as well as for us to minister to others.


Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes

While Dietrich Bonhoeffer was in a nazi prison for opposing Hilter, he became dependent on others for any news from the outside.  It was a red letter day when the post came which broke the drab monotony of prison life.  Also, he was so grateful to be allowed to speak to visitors.  He writes:

“It’s a queer feeling to be so utterly dependent on the help of others, but at least it teaches one to be grateful, a lesson I hope I shall never forget.  In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive that we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
         (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Letters and Papers From Prison SCM Press, Great Briton, 1953)

Watchman Nee in a little book Sit, Walk, Stand talks about how important it is to sit and rest in what God has done in Christ  before we try to walk His way or stand against spiritual opposition.  Here are a few quotations from his chapter on Sit:

“God…made him to sit…and made us to sit with him.  Let us first consider the implications of this word ‘sit’.  As I have said , it reveals the secret of a heavenly life.  Christian life does not begin with walking: it begins with sitting”

“Most Christians make the mistake of trying to walk in order to be able to sit (with Christ in heavenly places), but that is a reversal of the true order.  Our natural reason says, If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? What can we attain without effort? How can we ever get anywhere if we do no move? ….If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything.  For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE.  Thus Ephesians opens with the statement that God has ‘blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (1:3) and we are invited at the very outset to sit down and enjoy what God has done for us; not set out to try and attain it for ourselves.”

“God gives us our position of rest.  He brings His Son’s finished work and presents it to us, and then He says to us, ‘Please sit’ (ch’eng tso).”

“God is waiting till you cease to do…when you cease doing, then God will begin”

                 ( Watchman Nee Sit, Walk, Stand, Victory Press London and Eastbourne, 1962}

Bernie Seigal in a book How To Live Between Office Visits has an interesting note on hospitals:

What should the hospital of the future be like?  The word hospital derives from hospitality. And for the benifit of both patients and staff, the hospital should become a more hospitable place.  I like to see group meetings available  in hospitals for nurses , doctors, for aides and orderlies, so that they can communicate with one another and express their feelings and not take them out on the patients.

A hospital should have a meditation room , and exercise room anda resource room full of informative books and tapes – a “living room,” I’d call it – so that staff and patients can go to those places to have peace and quiet, as well as information on healing and curing their afflictions

In my training I was taught a lot about disease and about matter, but little about the spirit…. I would make spirituality a part of the institution…”

         (Bernie S. Siegal, M.D. How to Live Between Office Visits  Harper Collins, NY, 1993)

We are so needing the hospitality and care of other people.  I have always been amazed at the power of a group experience when we give ourselves over to the care of others.  I remember one group experience that I led at Sorrento Centre in the interior of British Columbia a number of years ago.  It was over the Easter weekend and our learning and group work was related to the events celebrated from Maundy Thursday to Easter. People shared the bad news of there lives and came face to face with the total inhibited and unmerited love of God in the Cross, and were overwhelmed by the power of the resurrection, and the availability of the power of the resurrection through the Spirit. We ended the weekend with a service which included the laying on hands on each individual by the whole group. Each person expressed what they thought that they needed to be healed, to be whole, to face the life that they were going back to. It was a great culmination to the events of the weekend. A couple of weeks later, I received a letter about the experience in one woman s life after the weekend. She had been a teacher for many years, a good teacher in the technical sense, and was concerned about her students, but had always remained aloof to her pupils, and unapproachable by other adults. The first thing that happened when she arrived was the secretary in the school office greeted her and said, “You re different!. What have you done this weekend?” The next thing that happened to her when she went into the classroom, one of the children put her arms around her and gave her such a hug of affection. This had never ever happened in all her years of teaching.

(Alex Thomas describing The Weekend of Fire, Sorrento Centre, Easter 1977)

Words from the Hymn Friends Are Friends Forever    

Friends are friends for ever
If the Lord is Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
Cause the welcome will not end  
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the father’s hand we know
And a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends   

Through the faith and love God’s given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy in leaving  
Give the strength that now you show
We’ keep you close as always
It wont even seem you’re gone
Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Gives the love that keeps us strong.

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