Thursday, August 28, 2008



August 28 2008


Hi Guys. I came across this little piece in my sermon prep recently. It stirred something in me, perhaps a little different than the underlined passage. Read on.

“My father suffered a debilitating stroke earlier this year, and I’ve followed him from the medical wards to Christchurch Public, through the assessment unit at Princess Margaret Hospital, and now to a private hospital. I’ve observed the health system at close quarters. And while the doctors have their place…believe me, it’s the nurses who care for the patients.

In the small hours, it’s the nurses and the nurse aides who change the soiled linen – for the umpteenth time that day. It’s the nurses and the nurse aides who turn the dying every four hours, who empty the bedpans, who spoon-feed and wipe up, who wrestle with the demented, and try to sooth their anxious souls. We entrust to them the care of our most precious people – the sick and the elderly. Much of it is work that would turn your stomach. And they do it for minimal return.

For the record, a nurse aide gets $8.50 an hour, and a registered nurse around $13 or $14. Compare that with $150…no, $200 an hour who represents us in a legal wrangle over the siting of a boundary fence. (1995 figures. Fred.)

But doesn’t it strike you as odd that, as a society, we should value so highly those jobs involving the manipulation of money and property, and yet pay so little to those who fetch and carry for our sick ones? Isn’t it rather strange that, in our most frail and vulnerable moments, we should expect the epitome of devotion from complete strangers – for little more than minimum adult wage?

For me, it points up to the fact that the kingdom which Jesus heralded – that commonwealth of compassionate endeavor, where human dignity and well-being are the highest values…all that is peculiarity at odds with the ways of our materialistic world.”

Brian Thomas in “On the Side of the Angels,”
Cathedral Publications, 1995 (As quoted in the Pulpit Resource, August 25, 2002)

Brian Thomas is right that as a culture we have our values twisted, distorted and inverted. But his piece had me thinking about how we as Christians get comfort from the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1), from our Shepherd (PS 23 & John 10) and from the Holy Spirit – the COMFORTER .

I guess I tend think in terms of a ‘voice from heaven,’ as Jesus himself heard. That’s godly, pious, holy, and suitably supernatural. And Jesus did say “My sheep hear my voice”! However I reckon that God usually clothes his comfort in ordinary human voices and arms and legs. The Spirit does a lot of his “comforting work” through nudging Jesus’ own people to be there, stay there, listen, speak gently, speak wisely, and sometimes say nothing at all, as the rivers of grief flow.

It takes time, effort, and courage to be a comforter. The first two are obvious. The third maybe not. You need courage because walking with someone into their darkness is usually to walk into your own!

And one other thing. You can usually pick the comforters by the fact that there’s a box of tissues near at hand.

Have a good week.



Blogger Ann of Northern Wisconsin USA said...

Thank goodness God provides comfort through these arms and legs. I'm pretty bad at "self comfort" even through reading the bible. I find another person's touch, word, even expressions bring comfor to me. I've learned to view these as angels. I look for them and thank them as best I can.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Boomerexy said...

Such a great observation Fred, tho the figures need to be adjusted. It seems so UNjust that some of our most valuable and important professions - such as health professionals, carers, teachers and child care workers are paid the least.

To me, it's one of the things that distinguish these true "vocations" - callings - from other paid jobs; and typically, we try to understand this perverse arrangement with human logic that so often applies money as a measuring stick for value.

God bless those carers - every one - who live the life that that God made them for, and who love their neighbour as they love themselves.


5:54 AM  

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