After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’) Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark Ch5, v40b-43
I was watching the new television series- ‘Universal Credit: Inside the Welfare State’ on BBC2 the other evening, and I was in awe of the important work those in our Jobcentres do. Known as ‘work coaches’ they not only have to help people find work, but they are also having to help them find emergency accommodation, give them food bank vouchers and offer advice in difficult personal situations. Karen who is one of the work coaches does a tremendous job helping her clients but towards the end of the programme Karen describes how she feels that despite her best efforts she is not doing enough for people. She sadly reflects upon how she didn’t really want to do this kind of work and that she always wanted to do something which would change the world. As I heard her words I wanted to shout out to her- ‘but you are changing the world’, ‘you are making a huge difference to people’s lives’, ‘you are doing tremendously important work’.
But how often do we say that to one another? How often do we encourage one another? How often do we say to a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour- well done- you are doing a fantastic job! I’m very aware that our society increasingly is becoming obsessed with the so called- ‘remarkable’ and ‘extraordinary.’ Social media is full of posts depicting those who are perceived to do extraordinary work including sports stars, film stars, media influencers, celebrities, business tycoons and music stars so much so that no-one is interested in the life of a stay at home mum, or a carer who looks after a loved one, or a shift worker or someone whose illness means that each day is a huge effort and enormous struggle. But in truth they are the champions of our society.
They are the countless people who silently go about their work and their daily lives not looking for adulation, not receiving huge financial gain, not becoming famous for their efforts. But instead faithfully and humbly weaving their hidden threads of loyalty, hard work, humility, compassion, kindness and love into the very fabric of our society.
Jesus spent a lot of his time encouraging those who lived so called ‘ordinary lives’. He spent time with parents who were exhausted and frantic with worry caring for their ill daughter. He preferred humble and hard-working fishermen to be his disciples and closest friends. Jesus came from an ordinary family, he did an ordinary job for many years and even throughout his three year ministry he shied away from any publicity and fame. Jesus simply wasn’t interested in public adulation or being seen as someone who was extraordinary and remarkable. Each time the crowds tried to exalt him he constantly directed their attention to God their Creator as the only one who was truly extraordinary and remarkable.
Jesus knew one of life’s most treasured secrets. He knew deep down in his core that he had been created by God and was loved by God and God’s presence was always with him. And Jesus knew that this truth was the same for all people. And he knew that God delighted in each person’s work, no matter how mundane they viewed it. For each act of loving care, each skill conscientiously practised, each task faithfully fulfilled was important and infinitely valuable to the God who sees absolutely everything.
With this in mind let us try and do as Jesus did and encourage one another. May we tell others who care for family members, friends, neighbours that the work they do each day is infinitely precious. May we lift-up the weary parents of small children and tell them that they are doing a very fine job. May we commend those who work long shifts and tell those who struggle daily with a chronic illness that they are courageous. May we tell the Karen’s of this day, who work tirelessly as work coaches in our Jobcentres that what they do truly and deeply matters. For they are indeed changing the world, one client at a time.
The reality is that everything we do truly matters and has eternal significance. That’s what Jesus taught. And God notices absolutely everything. Therefore like Jesus, we do not need to impress anyone and seek other’s adulation, for God is already aware of everything that we do- and he delights in the simple work of our hands, the daily tasks of life, no matter how mundane and ordinary we may believe it is.
And so may we all continue to quietly and faithfully weave our individual threads of loyalty, hard work, humility, compassion, kindness and love into the very fabric of our society. For what will result will be a rich and vibrant tapestry which will bring hope, peace and joy to others now and for all eternity.
God’s richest blessings to you all,
Your minister and friend,