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Now What? Moments after Hurricane Sandy

9November2012

Falen Tree with Stop Sign on Elm St, New Canaan, CT
(taken 11/05/12)

As part of the sermon on Sunday, I asked people to consider the question, “Now what?”

As the saints of God, “Now what?” does not mean, “So, now what are you going to do about this tipped over tree on my yard?” but rather,  “Now what can I do to help?” “Now what can I do to serve others?” “Now what can I do to welcome the least?”

I shared a few stories:

-People I saw reaching out in our community to neighbors after the Hurricane had passed to make sure others were OK.

-People I saw in a nearby coastal town where the homes were destroyed, but they congratulated one another on a hard day’s work as neighbors and friends, clearing out sand, debris and damaged belongings.

-A pizza joint in New York City (Uncle Paul’s Pizza on 46th and Vanderbilt – story here: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/335899) that stayed open providing pizza to the neighborhood.

As we sat together in a darkened, electricity-free fellowship hall for an unplugged “powerful powerless worship,” I asked people to name the “Now what?” moments they participated in, witnessed, or experienced over the past six days since Sandy came to meet us, The responses were great. Here they are:

MS said, “Several neighbors checked in to see if we were OK.”

EU said, “She was very grateful for the church community. When she got her power back there were twenty-eight messages from other church folks, and others stopped over to see is she was OK.”

DC said, “We have four families on our access road, all were checking on each other, ‘how are you doing? Would you like to plug into our generator?'”

EM said, “Our son lives in Africa, and I was reminded this week without electricity how many people struggle everyday for basic resources.”

RA said, “Our neighbors came to ask us if we wanted to warm up and take a shower. We didn’t know them. We do now!”

AS said, “A friend from China called to see if we were OK, saying, ‘it is good to hear you voice.’ Another person stopped over to deliver water we so desperately needed.”

HZ said, “Friends were sitting in their hot tub as the waves crashed over them from the ocean, trying to make the best of it. They’ve been staying now at my house.”

KG said, “What else can we do? We need to keep the effort going.”

I closed the sermon Sunday with something I learned from our Bishop, Jim Hazelwood. “Look at your hands. Look at your neighbors hands. Join hands. These are the hands of Christ. If you want to know where God is in the world, look at your hands. This is who we are called to be, bringing a little glimpse of what this kingdom is all about.”

Now it is time to keep making more stories, as we continue to catch more glimpses of the kingdom while asking, “Now what?”

It can be easy in these days as the power comes back on to get back to normal and lose sight that many will continue to struggle for weeks and months (perhaps even longer). To keep “the efforts going” I encourage you to be generous. There are many organizations that do great disaster relief work. My church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Amercia (ELCA) – does its work through ELCA DISASTER RESPONSE (https://community.elca.org/page.aspx?pid=784). Ask your pastor about your church’s ministry and relief efforts, before we too soon get back to “normal” and stop asking, “Now what?”

Often we shrug our shoulders and lift our hands sarcastically to say, “Now what?” and we indeed live in a cynical world. I encourage you to keep your hands active, not simply to keep busy or get someone to sing your praises, but as the opportunity to show a glimpse of the kingdom God has so graciously opened to us, knowing that we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). God has placed you, wherever you are, to bring a glimpse of the kingdom as we continue to ask together, “Now what?” in the most helpful, supportive and hospitable way that we can, for the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Whether it is making plans, discerning in prayer, or helping a neighbor in need, we each have the tremendous opportunity to discern, encourage, help and welcome others to see the kingdom unfolding around them too.

What “Now what?”moments have you noticed around you?

Keeping seeking the kingdom and asking the question. Stay warm. Warm others. After all, another storm has sarrived in New England, and soon another will be on its way!

GTS@CCD

__________

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21:1-6)

See the whole sermon here:

Sermon on John 11:32-44,
Sermon on John 11:32-44, “Now What??? (after Hurricane Sandy)”
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