Presentation by J Trevor Jones to the PCC of Santa Margarita, September 2016
This is the third in a series of reflections by Trevor Jones, as Lay Chair of the PCC of Santa Margarita, on the Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion. Trevor’s reflection on the first Mark of Mission was posted in July and the second reflection in October.
The Third Mark Of Mission
To respond to human need by loving service
You have heard it said “if ivver tha does owt fer nowt allus do it fer thissen.” But I say to you that the third Mark of Mission is – to respond to human need by loving service.
I rather thought that this might be the easier Mark to consider, but it has turned out not to be so. It is a broad subject. However, these are some of my thoughts.
At the divine level is Jesus’ loving service to mankind in response to the human need, whether recognised or not, to be saved from sin, sickness and death. At the human level is the well-known parable of ‘the good Samaritan’. These examples raise two questions to explore. What counts as human need, and how do we (you and I) respond with loving service in practice?
With the second Mark I thought about the spiritual need to be taught, baptised and nurtured. Now this Mark perhaps focuses more, although not solely, on practical needs. The fundamental practical human needs are to be fed, clothed and sheltered but thereafter can follow many more. The humans of the world have more and varied needs than we as individuals, or indeed the whole worldwide Anglican Communion, can satisfy. We also enter the realm of relativity. What is a desperate need for one person may be of little importance to another with a different desperate need, and when does a need become a want, a wish or simply an “I would like”.
The answer to how we respond lies I believe, in our individual capacity to feel compassion for and to feel empathy with. It is with these feelings that we undertake acts of kindness, or ‘do good’, or in other words, respond with loving service. These acts can take many forms depending I feel on whether or not the needy person is someone unknown and distant, or someone personally known or whom we come across. One person might go to Africa to dig a well while another contributes money towards the project. Both are responding to unknown distant humans in need. All of us personally know or come across humans with all variety of needs to which we can respond practically, emotionally and financially. Whoever the person or persons in need, a true response will involve loving service with the accent on the loving, because there are attitudes which are best guarded against. There is the wanting to be seen to be ‘doing good’ and to be praised and thanked for it. There is also the enjoyment of self-satisfaction if we lose sight of the reality that we receive far more than we can ever give.
Underlying practical needs is the perhaps subconscious need to receive the love with which the service is given. Receiving something given with love, as well as aiding the body uplifts the spirit. Therefore, it is right to do good, to give, to serve from the heart with compassion and empathy.
This is how Jesus did it and now it is our turn.
Whether our response to a human need is a single act of service or on-going service, our hands are now Jesus’ earthly hands and it is His love and service we reflect.