What a difference a week makes. I didn’t have to write this Words from Will early because there is no threat to our church or home right now. Skies are blue, wind is calm, even the rising waters won’t directly impact most of our homes. They are impacting our lives, however. Our hearts ache for the lives lost and disrupted because of the flooding. Our spirits are encouraged by the courageous and generous service others provide.
This week I’ve met Red Cross workers who have spent the night at Central. They have come from Florida, Tennessee, Colorado, and Wisconsin, among other places. One told me that he got involved with Red Cross a few years ago after a hurricane hit Florida and now whenever one strikes around the country, “I can’t not go.”
Like other churches in the area, Central has been part of the recovery effort this week. We’ve hosted Red Cross volunteers, been a food warming site for the Salvation Army’s work to get meals to shelters and first responders (they’re warming and delivering 3000 meals a day!), and have been prepared to receive those rescued from rising waters. As of early this morning, none have arrived, but by the time you read this some may have. It’s hard to predict. One lesson I’ve learned this week is these rescue efforts include a lot of “hurry up and wait.” You do what you can to prepare and then adjust accordingly. We’re trying to be as flexible and accommodating and helpful as we can this week and it’s looking like we’ll need to be next week, as well.
Our goal is show hospitality, which Jesus tells us to in Sunday’s gospel: Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me (Mark 9:37).
We’ve been ready to welcome evacuees in Jesus’ name since Monday, but, thankfully, they haven’t needed that yet. If and when they start arriving, it would be nice to know who would be willing to:
Be a daytime or evening host to help the evacuees be as comfortable as possible, to listen to their stories (if they wish to share), to play games, or to show them around.
Serve as an overnight host (sleeping at the church and being a resource for the Red Cross volunteers or evacuees, if needed).
If you’re interested in serving in one of these important ways, please let me know. If you see a first responder, lineman, someone serving through the Red Cross or Salvation Army or otherwise, be sure to tell them thanks. Look for ways to welcome Jesus by welcoming someone in his name.