Are you a caregiver? Visit www.holytrinityankeny.org for practical information and resources on caregiving.
Most of us experience the care and compassion of caregivers from the moment we are born. They take care of our every need when we arrive home from the hospital. They raise us and teach us about living in the world. They groom us to one day live on our own and be self-sufficient. As adults we meet illness and injury, some minor and short lived. Some lasting much longer than we had hoped. During those times we need caregivers. They may be professional caregivers, but many times they are spouses or other family members. Chances are we all have experienced or know someone who has needed a caregiver.
Caregiving can be rewarding, tiring, and a whole bundle of other emotions, but interwoven in your care is a sacred relationship with your loved one. Caregiving is challenging work. Routines change as you enter a type of caring you did not expect. Life can be lonely at times as the ability to get out of the house is limited and social ventures are halted except to address health care needs.
In the Bible, we find the story of Gabriel bringing news to Mary. The angel announces that she will be the mother of the Son of God! The Lord God will give her son the throne of David! Faithful Mary is undoubtedly bursting with desire to share this news, so she travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is six months pregnant. Who is caring for whom? We are not told, but we can assume that both are caring for each other to address the unique needs of the other person.
Luke tells us of Simon’s mother-in-law suffering from a high fever. Someone was caring for her and someone brought word to Jesus of her illness pleading for his presence. Simon’s role in caregiving is that of a family member reaching out to Jesus, advocating for his mother- in-law. Jesus rebuked the fever and it left her at once. Most of our caregiving experiences do not work this rapidly or smoothly.
One day when Jesus was teaching in a room filled with people from every village, some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him to lay before Jesus but finding no way they went up to the roof and let him down with his bed through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, the man was healed.
There are other stories of caregivers like the Centurion whose slave was ill, the widow who lived at Nain whose only son had died, the father whose son was possessed by demons. There is the parable of the Good Samaritan where Jesus teaches about caregiving through loving our neighbors. Jesus was a caregiver, filled with compassion for others. These stories of healings describe friends, family, and even strangers caring for others. They are giving of themselves. No one asked to be in this situation but responded in love to the needs of another. Caregivers are life givers to the one in need.
Jesus formed another type of caregiver: A community. The inner circle of disciples cared for one another. In John’s gospel before Jesus’ death, he washed his disciple's feet as an act of love and service instructing them to do the same for each other meaning they are to care for each other. They carried this instruction with them after receiving the Spirit. The early church grew and becomes a church of love and care. They shared all they had in common so that no one was in need. They continued care in the church as deacons visited the sick, the widows and cared for orphans. The church’s value of care and compassion continues today.
We are all caregivers to each other reaching out in times of illness or recovery, in times of loss and grief. As the older segment of society grows, there will be more children of elderly adults and loved ones in caregiver roles. Yet, some of those children may also be caregivers for their own children or grandchildren.
We are a congregation of caregivers, caring for each other in diverse ways at different times following the example of Jesus, the ultimate caregiver who promises to bring rest to the weary, and brings healing to all. He invites us to give our burdens to him. He promises to be with us. He pours out on each of us his abundant love because he is full of mercy and will never turn his back on us. We have a God who understands the challenges, the sufferings of life, and amid the sacred times in our relationships with each other we find new life blossoming in unexpected ways. So today, to all the caregivers and all those receiving care from special people in your life, know that you are precious to God and we are all precious siblings to each other in the Holy Trinity community.
Pam Schroeder, Pastor for Care and Community