Worship Gathering This Saturday at 6:30pm: Stay Tuned for Details
Hurricane Matthew has come and gone and left its mark. The day after the storm, my family and I got in touch with or visited friends from our church. All of us were affected by the storm, some more than others. Everyone wanted to know the same thing: is everyone okay? Like a lot of folks in our part of St. Johns county, we experienced minor property damage and power outages – some more than others. But it warmed my heart to see brothers and sisters in Christ loving each other like family. We were loving God by loving one another and loving our neighbors. Invitations and offers to help were going back and forth. Meals, showers, shelter – whatever was needed was available. When God made people, he made us for community. Sometimes a storm can clarify that.
The people of the First Coast are pretty durn awesome. I saw people from the area stepping up to volunteer their time to help clean up. I was encouraged to see many area churches taking the lead in this, electing not to hold worship services the Sunday following the storm and encouraging members instead to find a way to help out. My wife and I took that to heart. When our friend Jordan put out a call for help with clean up in her beach neighborhood for 11:00am on Sunday, we decided to go. About a dozen or so friends and family showed up and we got to work. Another family just happened to be in the area with their two small kids. They were looking for a way to help out and wanted to teach their kids about serving. They saw what we were doing and just jumped in. In a few hours, we’d rebuilt part of a fence, cut the grass, cleared a sidewalk, and gathered a big pile of seaweed and trash. It was satisfying to see things visibly improved. A side benefit, we connected with friends and made new ones. By the way, Jesus endorsed that sort of thing as a valid form of worship. Check out Matthew 12:11-12.
On Monday morning, my friend Alan posted a video on social media about cleaning up. (He attends one of those churches that encouraged its members to help neighbors.) But he didn’t just go out on his own, though. Very intentionally, he included his two young daughters. He didn’t want to miss the opportunity to pass on something important to the next generation: that in times of need, the right thing to do is to help. We do for others what we’d want them to do for us.
This storm called Matthew has left us with a lot of work to do. Some areas on the First Coast have been hit very hard. And it may be true that storms can bring out the worst in people, but I have a lot of hope on the First Coast, because from where I sit, the darkness of the storm allowed people’s light to shine.