The title of a recent article in The Christian Century (March 1, 2016) by William T. Cavanaugh caught my attention:
"Healing from the ground up: The church as field hospital."
In beginning the article, Cavanaugh shares the following quote from Pope Francis:
"I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness. proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. And you have to start from the ground up."
This took me back 45 years ago when I served as the program chairman for our Student Conference on Mission and Ministry [February 12-14, 1971] at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. As program chairman, I suggested the phrase "Pioneering the Human Task" -- which I had discovered in a book by Dr. Gabriel Fackre, now retired from Andover Newton Theological School as the Samuel Abbot Professor of Christian Theology, Emeritus.
The cover for our brochure for the "Pioneering the Human Task" conference featured the following quote from Dr. Fackre's book:
"...when the Samaritan came upon the victim, he did not hand him a tract,
or preach a sermon, or say, 'Let us turn to hymn 52.'
The text says, 'He bound up his wounds.'
In a world of wounds, the Church is called to be the first to leap to the side of the hurt.
Its missionary task is to speak the language of compassion and deed,
a language which the world understands.
And like the Samaritan, its role is to be the first on the scene -- to pioneer the human task."
Amen and Amen.