"For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14
It's been a very stressful week or so. The build up to Hurricane Irma was one like I have never experienced before. I have lived in Florida since 1977 and this was a storm like no other from my perspective. The news coverage was nonstop. The scenarios given were worst case. All of this together led to a lot of stress, anxiety and some fear. I think this will be a storm we all remember.
Of course, Irma was a devastating storm in so many ways. The Caribbean Islands in its path were all but destroyed. Irma rode along the coast of Cuba for days battering the residents there and causing much damage. Then the landfall in Florida and the devastation of flooding, storm surge, and wind damage. We have experienced the power of Irma right here in our area as well. While we were spared the worst of Irma, there are still many with their homes flooded, without power, and lost food and possessions.
I am not writing this to recall the gloom of the last week or so. Rather, I am writing to offer a glimpse into the hope that followers of Jesus Christ offer in times like this. Our church has seen the need and responded. Before the storm I had people offer to help anyone who needed assistance in getting ready for the storm. Members helped neighbors put up plywood and ready their homes. It was an amazing sight to see the people of Christ being selfless and demonstrating Christ's love through service to others.
After the storm the call went out for help in our community. Again, I saw members helping others clear debris, cut up trees that had fallen, and checking on each other to make sure everyone was safe. The church was asked to be a collection site for donations to help victims of the Alafia River flooding. The church and community have stepped up. Beth Wood, our Serve the Community Coordinator, reported that as of Thursday night we had delivered three truck loads of supplies to United Food Bank, three truck loads to ECHO, a truck load to Seeds of Hope, and supported the SAUMC Food Pantry. A lot of folks have been helping including youth and adults. Beth has been doing a terrific job of coordinating it all.
This is what it means, in part, to love your neighbor as yourself. I am so proud to be the Pastor of folks who always step up to whatever challenge is set before them. This is what it means to be the church. This is what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This is what it means to be the hope of the world, the local church. Thank you St. Andrew's for loving our neighbors!
This Sunday we will start a new series "One Faithful Promise" that we were scheduled to start last week. This series will walk us through what it means to be in a covenant relationship with Jesus. I can't wait to see you in church.