Spotlight 1/2022: In the congregation for the congregation
Our motto for 2022 “Together in Christ” has some very practical implications. For pastoral care is a task that involves everyone, District Apostle Jürg Zbinden of Switzerland says.
At the start of the year, we made a commitment in my working area to concentrate on pastoral care. We have come to realise that pastoral care is not only the task of the ministers, but the whole congregation.
The Chief Apostle’s motto for 2022 complements our theme perfectly: “Together in Christ”. We would like to do something in the congregation and for the congregation, not as lone fighters, but together. Christ said: “Without Me you can do nothing.” His words are trailblazing for all pastoral care offers in the church: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit” (John 15: 5). Working together in Christ means giving and taking, accepting the neighbour, and overcoming everything that separates or could cause a divide. Learning from one another and praying for one another are also part of this. Wonderful fruit is revealed if we not only begin with Christ, but watch for and anticipate Him, and stay in Him.
Pastoral care is a joint task, meaning we carry one another’s burdens. And the strength and stamina required for this we receive through the close fellowship with Christ. This is how the congregation prepares itself for the return of Christ. The new creation is taking shape within us more and more, as Apostle Paul already said so aptly: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5: 17). This new creation is to develop and unfold.
Where old things have passed away and new things are growing, we do not only just look out for ourselves, our own wishes and ideas, and nurture our own habits and passions, no, we look out for our sister and our brother and their needs. And we look to Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12: 2).
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians we can read: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2: 6–7).
Let’s follow this counsel gladly!