Take care! (15-06-2021)
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.(Deuteronomy 8:1-3)
Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. (John 21:13-18)
When you buy a new item of clothing how good are you at looking at the care instructions? And if you don’t like the care instructions do you put the item of clothing back or do you buy it anyway knowing that it is going to be difficult to clean it at some later date? Or do you simply ignore the instructions and stick it in the washing machine and hope for the best?
I have been thinking recently about taking care. It is a phrase that is used in many different contexts and means many different things. I will often end a phone call with a friend or family member by saying ‘Take care’. For many of us we will remember reading or watching the stories of Paddington as a child, the bear who was found at Paddington Station with a label around his neck saying ‘Please take care of this bear’. For those of us who have been growing seeds and plants we will have been studying the instructions on the back of the packets or labels telling us how to take care of the plants in order for them to grow successfully.
Taking care of something is far more than simply following washing instructions or giving it food. The young plants in my garden are given food once a week but without being placed in the correct position or given the correct support when needed they will not thrive. Like the plants we too need much more than just food to thrive. We need to put ourselves in places where we will flourish and we need to use support when it is needed. We need to take care of not only our physical development but our spiritual development as well. We need to spend time reading our bible, praying and sharing with other Christians. It is only when we take care of ourselves that we are able to take care of others.
In Deuteronomy we are reminded that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. This is a reminder to us that we need to feed ourselves spiritually as well as physically. In the reading from John’s gospel we find Jesus telling Peter to take care of his sheep and we see through reading the book of Acts and the letters how this was followed up by the disciples by both sharing of food and a desire for spiritual growth in all those they met. Like them we need to care for others, both by ensuring they have food to eat but also that they are nourished with the word of God, only then will we be taking care.
Father God, help us to take care of ourselves, so that we are able to take care of others.