Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hurricane Rita and the Love of Christ

I know, I know, it's been a long time since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. But, a word in my defense, I have been pretty busy with this vicarage thing. Since I’ve been here in the great nation of Texas, I’ve already had a lot of great experiences; my first (gag) meetings, my first sermon without notes, my first solo funeral, my first shut-in calls, my first hospital visits, my first aramadillo sighting, my first Dove Festival, and, oh yeah, my first experience with a hurricane!!

This past weekend, as Hurricane Rita grew ever more ominous and people around Hamilton were really getting a little nervous, I had my very first experience with ministering to evacuees. There had been some talk about us taking some evacuees in our gym, but, this is Hamilton, it’s a very small town and surely there would be better places for displaced families to go. But, because of Hurricane Katrina, all those other places were full. It was last Thursday when we were informed that we would indeed be taking some people. We got a call that a family of five was on their way. We were able to get enough bedding for three right away and there were other members who still needed to be called, so we felt pretty confident of our abilities to give this family shelter.

They arrived, very tired and anxious looking. They had been on the road for over 18 hours on a drive that should have taken six hours max. We were feeling pretty sure of ourselves and proud that we could care for this family. About ten minutes after they pulled in, about 20 other people came. We had no idea what we would do or how we would accommodate 25 people. That is when I really started to realize that we in the church are not the ones that “do” anything. We are just the servants of the Lord and we have to turn to Him for all our needs. I learned that even more the next morning when there were over 80 people in the gym. Over the night we had had over 100 people who had just stopped in to rest.

It was a great blessing for me and my brothers and sisters in Christ to care for these people. It was humbling to realize that without God even our best efforts to do good would fall far short of the need. It was tremendously comforting to see God’s provision for us as a church and for these people who had been displaced.

I have learned a lot as a vicar. I have learned that serving God means humbling oneself. I’ve learned that the Love of Christ is more powerful than any storm. I’ve learned that “outreach” can be done right in the church. It’s been a great experience and for anyone who cares I will try to be more dilligent in posting my experiences.
The Lord be with you!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Peace that God gives in Prayer

My bishop left for a mission trip to Russia. I was a little nervous about being "in charge," but we had finished all our shut-in calls, there were no scheduled meetings, and things had been quite at the hospital.
Monday morning I got a call to come to the hospital right away, a member who had been ill for some time had been re-admitted and was not doing well. As you can imagine from the title of this post, that member died.
I was all alone with a funeral to prepare for! I was nervous, but it was such a great opportunity to share the gospel, such a great opportunity to minister to God's people and show them His love and the hope we have in Christ.
I cannot overemphasize the importance that prayer played in my week. Numerous hospital visits with a grieving family, other hospital visits, office equipment problems, preschool open houses, sermon preparation, funeral preparation and three nursing home services sure is a lot to get done. Thankfully, the burden of all this was not on my shoulders! Because of the wonderful gift God has given His people in prayer, because we know that Christ has won for us righteousness before the Father, because we have the assurance that God works for the good of all who love Him and have been called to Him, we have peace.
It is this peace that God gave to me over this last week. It is the peace that passes all human understanding, it is the peace that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It is that same peace that will sustain the greiving family now after the funeral, and the same peace that is available, at no cost, to all who greive and are in difficult situations.
This was a busy week for me. It could have easily been used by the devil as a tool to discourage me, but thanks be to God we have prayer.
My encouragement to any who still read this thing after so long with no posts is to establish an active and vigorous prayer life. I am not suggesting some kind of "works righteous" activity by saying this, I am suggesting we use the gifts, the tools and the weapons our Father has given us.
When you feel overwhelmed or discouraged, turn to God as a child and seek His peace!