The word community is not just a “church” word. It is used in secular circles as well – and for basically the same reasons. It speaks of togetherness, a common goal, a sense of the familial without the family baggage. It should evoke a sense of responsibility – that we see those of us who can, taking care of those of us who can’t. Knowing that we belong to each other and joy and hurt should be equally shared.
Not-so-many years ago a small Midwestern town was hit by a not-so-small Midwestern tornado. This tornado took out houses, schools, and churches. It also took out most of an apartment complex. When it was all said and done more than 20 people were dead, more than 300 injured, and the devastation would leave a scar on the landscape that is just now beginning to fade.
There were many stories of heroism – ordinary people who risked their own lives to find and rescue victims because they needed finding and rescuing. Doctors and nurses who served tirelessly along side city emergency crews. Policemen and Firemen and Paramedics who came back to help or stayed to help because that is what they do - help those who need helping.
But there was one story of the un-heroic kind that most people have never heard.
There was a church not more than a quarter of a mile from the apartment complex that took a direct hit. There were families at home that day – families that the winds tore apart and scattered.
The church was contacted and asked if it could be used as a refuge for the children, a place where the families could come to hopefully be reunited. The church leadership said no.
Unbelievably, they said no. After praying for God to bring in new people to their congregation. After praying that God would use them as a light to their community. After spending time thinking and planning for ways to reach their neighborhood thru kid’s clubs and door-to-door visitation. They said no.
How many times have we prayed those same prayers and then passed by the homeless man on the street with nothing but thoughts of disgust? How many times have we prayed that an end would come to abortion-on-demand only to do nothing to help the girl/woman who has chosen to keep her baby? How many times have we prayed for our schools, our community, our government, our servicemen and women, our (fill in the blank) without actually getting our hands dirty or our feet wet?
Sometimes we’re so heavenly minded we are no earthly good. . .