The Church Responds with Prayer and Action

The Cape Fear region was filled with a lot of anxiety and unease over the past week. Where will Hurricane Matthew hit? Would we receive hurricane force winds? Are we in the cone of uncertainty? How much rain will our area receive? Like many of us, I was glued to my TV and phone, constantly receiving updates on what would happen to our area while at the same time wondering where the storm would go next or, more importantly, what would the aftermath look like. As my neighbors and I ventured out of our homes on Sunday morning to assess the damage and begin cleaning up, one of my neighbors said that our clean-up would be “our church” service for that morning. Her comment stayed with me for the rest of Sunday as we cleaned up our yard, but also when we walked around our neighborhood and saw other people helping others clean up. People were helping each other regardless of who they were, where they came from, or the state of their house or yard. People just wanted to help after the storm, and that was, indeed, church for Sunday morning. The Body of Christ worshiped in the clean-up after the storm.

The church is the Body of Christ gathered together and helps no matter what happens in life. When life is going well, the church gathers; when life is going through a storm, the church gathers. And when we have to clean up and put lives back together after a storm (literally or metaphorically) the church gathers. The church, covered in the love of Christ, goes out to be God’s presence in the world. The church aids those brothers and sisters who need help in the midst of chaos and suffering. The church will be present when the flood waters have subsided and when the clean-up begins.

As I write this, I am still seeing reports of rising flood waters across Eastern North Carolina and Southern Virginia. Bishop Skirving has been calling churches across the diocese to see how they are doing. The diocese is assessing the situations and needs for the parishes, missions, and areas that were affected by the hurricane. As soon as the needs are assessed and the diocese gives us direction, St. James will let people know how they can help those. But until then, the best thing that the church, the people, the Body of Christ, can do is pray and wait. That may seem hard, especially when we have the urge to do something right now, but it’s the best thing we can do now.

I shared the Prayer attributed to St. Francis last week with the Disciples Sunday Morning Class and I believe it is appropriate for affected by the storm and those who will respond and help. May we be the church that responds in prayer and action in the days to come!

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
 there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.