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Faith column: Paying attention to the need

If we learn nothing else, we need to pay attention to helping others in need.

031721.O.DG.PASTORCOLUMN
Flinck
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One thing I’ve learned in my years here on this earth is that I have not seen everything, nor do I know everything. I’m fairly certain I make a conscious effort to never portray that I am a know-it-all. Not true. People who know me would hopefully agree with that statement. I am always open to learning more about many things.

I know enough to realize that just by saying that, some might believe I am setting myself up to be perfect. Again, not true. I make mistakes just like the average person every day. Let me give you an example.

Last week, I picked up my wife for our usual drive around the town. With me driving and my wife holding our little dog, we stopped at the local fast food hangout for a couple of diet Cokes (with no ice) and we toured the town. It really affords us an opportunity to catch up with not only what is happening in the community, but with each other.

You see, we work different schedules and making some time together is an important thing (that one I learned the hard way).

Over the past year, we’ve waited with great anticipation for the opening of the new movie theatre. We were right on top of it when it finally opened (although we are still waiting for the movie marquee sign that we think should be put up). We watched the demolition of the old Shopko building and each week, we speculated as to what new business might open up on that location.

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We watched the new Intermediate School take shape and last week, we saw it open for the new students and teachers who will be engaged in learning in that new setting. So many things to see when you pay attention to them on a simple tour of the town.

While on our tour, we decided to take a bit of a detour from the normal route. We turned south onto Minnesota 60 and headed south on the four lane, anticipating we would take the community college road back to our normal trip around the lake. My wife spotted something on the left side of the road (going south toward Sibley) — something small, something furry. And this something was alive.

We decided to stop and see what it might be, sitting in the middle of a busy highway. Dodging trucks, semis and SUV’s, my wife made it to the side of the road where she picked up a small kitten. A very traumatized small kitten. She brought it back to the car where our little dog was instantly very curious and (I’m certain) was thinking the same thing I was thinking.

“We are not keeping this cat,” my thoughts suddenly blurted out in the form of words directed to my wife. I want to believe that our dog was nodding in agreement. I was adamant and repeated myself again, almost surprised that I was sounding less compassionate than a minister ought to sound.

At the same time I was having this ungraceful moment, I realized we needed to help this poor creature. How noble of me. Instead of thinking about the welfare and well-being of another (even if it was a kitten), I was more concerned about myself. In moments like this, you learn

something about yourself — if you are paying attention.

Luke’s Gospel has a very familiar story that teaches me a lesson here: the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In response to a question about who is a neighbor, Jesus tells the story of three persons who pass by someone in need. Only one of the persons pays attention to the man along the side of the road, actually stopping and making sure the man was taken to safety, given food and shelter and able to recover in time. The Samaritan even said he’d come back to make sure that if more was needed, he would provide it.

It’s a good lesson for us to pay attention to — responding to the question of “who is our neighbor?”. It takes a risk to help someone who is in need. In the story Jesus told, the man who helped didn’t just offer a token of assistance. He gave much more than what might be expected of him. It’s a great lesson for us to learn — if we are paying attention.

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Go the second mile. Take the necessary risk to help another in need. Don’t just offer a token — really offer a deeper level of care to help that person recover.

When I think of my initial response to helping a kitten, I check myself at the door. Fortunately, we did find a solution to help the kitten feel safe and be able to recover. The last we heard, the kitten has found a new home and has returned to all of the things that little kittens should do.

As I said earlier, I am open to learning. Still a work in progress on some things. Like stray kittens. Or helping the needy. I need to just pay attention. How about you?

Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck is pastor at First United Methodist Church in Worthington and the Adrian United Methodist Church.

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