Week 1, lectures 1 and 2 – 25th September
In this lecture professor Gibson discussed Pastoral care from the Mid-twentieth century. Historically pastoral care has been seen as the function of the clergy as those appointed by God as ‘shepherds’ to care for the sheep, or members of the Christian community. Patton (cited in Gibson 2005, p.21) highlights that the pastoral carers remind the individual they are caring for of God by remembering and hearing them just as God continues to hear and remember them. It think it is important to note that the carer and the person being cared for share a common humanity.
This leads into the issue of pastoral care alongside. Campbell (1986, p.15 cited in Gibson lecture notes) states that “the carer and the cared for are not on two sides of a divide which must be bridged by expertise on the part of the one who cares.” Due to this, there is an element of vulnerability involved in pastoral care as Nouwen (cited Gibson 1979, p.38) highlights the idea of a ‘wounded healer’ putting their own faith to help those who ask for their help. An interesting point that Taylor (1983, p.21) makes is that faith supports pastoral care as a carer is helping an individual out of gratitude for the love that God has revealed to us through Christ.
A key issue in pastoral care is the idea of pastoral care with authority. In the lecture we discussed how certain issues and problems faced by an individual can resonate with the carer. Patton (2005, p.23) gives the example that if the carer has gone through a loss then it can significantly affect how they respond to a loss in another individuals life. Furthermore, he highlights that awareness of oneself and what is going on in one’s experience is an essential part of the presence required in pastoral care.
In the exercise of pastoral care we have a lived revelation of the nature of God, the carer, through His people.
Week 2 –
In our tutorial professor Gibson discussed Sin, Guilt and Shame. The vocabulary in the Old Testament and New Testament inform us of the many-sided nature of sin. Guilt and uncleanness are common to both. Sin is an evil force at work. Romans 5:12 states ” Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Sin is something deeply wrong with the world; something that allows all manner of suffering. Sinfulness is part of human nature and our fallen identity. Human beings naturally tend towards doing what is wrong. Total depravity is the idea that every of our life is touched by sin. While I believe that we as humans can carry out good acts, even they are tainted by sin. Scholtz (1993, p.138) states Johnson’s belief on human nature. “Such is the weakness of human nature, that every particular state, or condition, lies open to particular temptations.” Scholtz points out that Johnson believes human susceptibility to evil is not learned but rather is inherent.
Sin has grave consequences even death as it is God’s punishment. Death means the separation of things that belong together such as God and humanity. Coate (1994, p.28) states that it is not just individuals who become separated from and abandoned by God through sin but groups of people. Living in a sinful world can also cause innocent suffering. An example of this is in the Bible is Job. Ramsey (2011, p. 368) highlights that Job is righteous. Ramsey states “Job is upright; that is, he is not suffering because he is a sinner.” Job suffered despite his righteousness and therefore relatively little human suffering is a punishment for the sin of the sufferer.
The pastoral carer is faced with a difficulty of the identification of sin in that what the Bible calls a sin is acceptable in western society. An example of this is greed, the Bible speaks out against, but it is considered to be admirable by many in today’s society.
It is important in pastoral care that the correct conclusions are drawn about the relationship between suffering and sin in any situation.
As my action I will read my Bible to renew my mind and to become more like Jesus.
Week 3 – 9th October 2018- lectures 5 and 6
In our lecture professor Gibson discussed Worship as Pastoral Care. Three closely related ideas we focused on were Ritual, Liturgy and Worship.
Worships is an ‘act of God’. God has created humanity for His own reasons and for His glory. Wolterstoff (2015, p. 23) states that ”..worshipping God is a mode of acknowledging God’s worthiness, the excellence of who God is and the greatness of what God has done…” Newman (1982, p.288) states that Willon sees the relation between pastoral care and worship in that pastoral care comes about through the congregation’s gathering of worship. An important point of Corporate Worship is that it is an inclusive activity and therefore worship should be accessible to all. We discussed the issues that need to be considered if worship is to be accessible to everyone including the language that is used and even if the church building is accessible to those with a disability. I had never given much thought into this, but I was surprised at how easy it is for worship to be inaccessible.
Corporate Worship is the right attitude that we can come before God. Wolterstorff (2015, p.108) highlights that as we worship God, He listens to us. As God is gracious He will hear favourably what we have to say. Even though God is a Holy God, we can come humbly to Him as He has called us into a personal and intimate relationship with Himself.
Corporate worship can provide rest. If an individual faces a job with many challenges for example, worshiping God can give them an opportunity for refreshment. The Bible states Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Corporate worship is a transforming activity. Wolterstorff (2015, p. 24) highlights “In worshipping God we turn away from our heavenly bodies…so as to attend directly to God.”
As my action I will worship God regardless of whether I feel like doing so as He is worthy and deserving of worship and do so with the understanding that I can open myself up to His presence and intimacy.