Sunday, September 3, 2017
Contribute to the needs of the saints;
extend hospitality to strangers. ...
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
-Romans 12: 13, 15
While tropical storm Harvey continues to dump un-imaginable amounts of rain on our nation’s fourth-largest city (Houston) and its surrounding region, scenes of terrible loss and desperation are all over the news. You may be wondering if there is anything you can do to help.
I have good news for you: you already have done some good, and we have some really efficient and effective ways to send more help.
In March and April of this year, we at Bethel received the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering. We contributed $360, this year. And you can give directly to OGHS at any time.
On average, of every dollar given to One Great Hour of Sharing, 95 cents is used directly for mission programming, and the remaining 5 cents is used to create interpretation materials. Administrative costs are paid by gifts to Our Church's Wider Mission National Basic Support.
“UCC Disaster Ministries is already gearing up for our long-term recovery work in the region and your contributions for Harvey survivors means providing community support for holistic recovery, repairing house and home for families and children and restoring dignity for the most vulnerable who have lost everything in the wake of this catastrophic event.”
Among our partners in disaster relief is Church World Service. They are already positioning supplies for feeding people and flood cleanup where they can do the most good. Church World Service is “in the initial assessment phase of [their] response. Emergency Response Specialists are working with the National V.O.A.D. – Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster – as well as the state VOAD in Texas as they monitor the damage from the storm. We are coordinating with local partners in the Corpus Christi area to determine their needs. A potential response would likely include small grants and other support for recovery efforts, particularly for vulnerable communities and groups including immigrants and refugees. ... Hurricane Harvey appeal funds will help cover the costs of processing and shipping these supplies.”
I find the following devotional article , called “Super-Human,” highly relevant to this current disaster relief situation, as well as to our obedience to the gospel call in general. It was written by Rev. Quinn Caldwell, who is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York.
“… the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us
would have gone the raging waters.”
- Psalm 124:1, 4-5
Earlier this summer, two women visiting Panama City Beach in Florida heard screams and saw two young boys hundreds of feet out from shore. They'd been caught in a rip current and couldn't get back. There being no lifeguards on duty, the women went out on boogie boards to try to save them, and got stuck themselves. Multiple other rescue attempts failed, until there were nine people caught in the water and in danger of drowning.
That's when the people on the beach realized that no single person was going to be able to save them. This was a problem that was bigger than any one swimmer, even a strong one, could handle. So one by one, then ten by ten by ten, they linked arms, forming a human chain reaching out toward the stranded swimmers. And having made their human bodies into one huge super-human body, they plucked those swimmers from the waters and passed them back to shore. Not one person died that day on Panama City Beach.
There are problems in this world that a body cannot handle alone. There are situations that cannot be saved by a single person. There are currents you can never swim your own way out of. Which is why (please tell me you saw this coming) God gave us the church, the place where we link ourselves up, make our bodies into the Body, and perform miracles that none of us could perform alone.
The church doesn't exist for your salvation; it exists to give you a way to participate in the saving of the world.
Prayer: For the strong arms of the one to my left and to my right, and for superhuman strength You give us when we're together, thank You. Amen.