It felt so good to be back together in church yesterday. The week before had been tumultuous at best – power issues, lines at the gas stations, lines at the grocery store (and not much to choose from when you got there). I felt a great sense of comfort coming back together to sing and pray and worship God. I felt better just having the people I love and the people who love me gathered in one place.
One of my joys is leading the church in times of prayer. John Wesley once said that God does nothing except in answer to prayer – I’m not sure I agree with that completely, but I must say, my sense is that God is ready to give us much more if we’ll just ask for it.
Quick aside: there is the story of the man who went to heaven and was getting a tour of all the great wonders and beauty of God’s Kingdom. At one point he noticed a door and asked what was behind it. The Lord said, “Open it up and take a look.” As the man open the door he saw rows and rows of boxes with big bows on them stacked floor-to-ceiling as far as his eyes could see. Looking carefully he saw names on the boxes. He even saw some with his name on them. When he asked what these boxes were with his name on them, God replied, “Those are all the blessing I had for you but you never asked for.” (the Bible says we don’t receive because we don’t ask!)
Anyway, back to Sunday morning. At both services we took time to pray for those who did not have power in their homes. I figured if God was waiting for us to ask, then we’d ask, and we did. I heard later that day at least one home that had power back that morning – praise God! My prayers continue for the rest of our folks still bumping around in the dark. My point in all that is that I love it when the church prays together in such a specific and tangible way.
There were of course many stories of people going above and beyond their own well-being. Neighbors were helping neighbors, people wanting to help others – and let me tell you, I cannot count the number of people who said to me “Is there anyone who needs anything, anything we can do to help?” One family in the church has taken in another family – and the extended family of that guest family! They said they were answering the call to “radical hospitality”. Some of the men in the church said they had a meeting the other day – and I must say, as a preacher one can get nervous about such meetings, but not at Asbury- the men met and talked about being available to help others who need some work done around their homes. They told me to let them know where the help was needed and they would get a group together and make it happen. These are busy people who have their own issues to deal with, but they will not let their own needs, their own stress, their own weariness stop them from serving the needs of others. As far as I can tell that sounds a lot like what a guy named Jesus did… Oh yeah – don’t forget the collection of groceries and baby care products that were being collected by some others for a group down in Dickinson!
I continue to thank God that I have the privilege of serving His church called Asbury UMC. This church is working hard to be salt and light in the world around us. I pray that we will exhaust ourselves in serving others with the love and grace of God.
Holy high-five to you, Mike.