by Rev. John Farmer
Eyes upon the Church?
Remember the little folded hands jingle of our youth: “This is the Church, this is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.”
It has been written that a person has to hear a thing many times in order to remember it; yet, what we see tends to stay with us. The Bible even records in both Testaments such as “… you have seen.”
Sad TV words cooled my Monday morning coffee with yet another potential devastation marching up the Atlantic Coast. My eyes are full of what I have seen. My unhealed ears tingle with repeated sad stories blaring forth from every network. Elsewhere snow blankets the north and mid-west.
However, my heart is warm with what I see around the recent periphery… you know those heart-tugging stories of recovery, of unabated assistance, even from many who have themselves lost everything.
Before the Christmas holidays appeared, our denominational newspapers were ripe with positive results of monies donated. In addition, heroes amongst us had turned out by the scores to help restore humanity to flood victims.
For weeks I’ve been blessed to hear about the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and Christian folks who had arrived and worked tirelessly along the towns in despair. Cameras caught folks in line waiting to be fed. Happy eyes also saw Methodist, Baptist, Church of Christ and many other denominational rescue tents.
In recent days we have heard from the mouths of the storm victims just how appreciative they were for all the love, comfort and support shown them. They were seeing with their own eyes that folks near and far cared about them. They cared about them because they believed in a Jesus and his admonishment to see him in every impoverished situation, every hungry child, every hurting mother, every displaced family and every grieving loved one. Folks are beginning to talk about witnessed faith that dispels one’s own comfort zone to travel to meet misery in unknown faces, unknown places.
I am so very thankful for the folks of the Northern Neck who have traveled to be the arms and hands of Jesus. I am so very thankful for those who dipped deep in their wallets to come to the aide of brothers and sisters not like us. I am thankful for the churches and the many ways in which they have stepped up to the plate. I am thankful for those who parked trucks, loaded supplies and sent tangible visions of love to those less fortunate than are we.
God is being recognized all across the south in the faith turned to action by so many wonderful volunteers. I would declare that the house of the Lord is alive and working.
Behind the scenes there loom countless stories of heroism, great charity, Christian love and a genuine outpouring of deep personal faith. That’s faith in action: a view of the church and to the credit of many fine helping organizations.
Winter seems so harsh, when disaster strikes again, in areas still fragile from bouts of weather. Even though the TV and radio presentations struggle for the most bizarre, the most captivating, I will admit that I have seen more concerted efforts to help heal America than to stimulate cynicism.
This past Monday morning communities awakened, having been visited by repeating natural disasters.
There is always a storm brewing someplace, isn’t there? How ever are we to prepare?
“Faith without works is dead,” so says the Bible. Learn from those who have becomes the eyes, ears, arms, feet and heart of Jesus in physical form throughout our land. Let’s all join in and pray for those who are serving on behalf of the Lord to have the strength to stand, to endure and to be seen as that special, physical Jesus, whom many have never read about, heard about or had a chance to know. Let’s all pray that the witness of so many fine persons of faith will signal a message of compassion, of salvation, to many who might never have known the Lord but for the fruit borne by many since the hurricane lay to waste much of the deep south.
Inside our sanctuary walls we say, “Listen to the word, go out and serve.” Outside the architecture of our faith intuitions we say by our actions, “that we are from the Lord.” I am proud of what I’ve seen of late.
Let us pray: Most Holy God in whose hands rest so much natural disaster, disorder and hope; continue to send relief to those who suffer, those who mourn, and those who count material possessions by what they lost – yet are thankful to have survived.
Thank you, Lord for those who have become active participants of such magnanimous proportions in the recovery effort.
Thank you Lord for those Sunday school and Bible school workers, ministers and lay leaders whom you have given opportunity to bear much fruit.
Lord, I pray for those already in harm’s way again. Amen.