Love in Action

Today (January 26th) I got to see our latest sermon series acted out right before my eyes. This morning Casey came in and set up some tables for the potluck on Sunday, and apparently she pulled or pinched something, because within half an hour of finishing she was sitting in a chair in my office, unable to walk because of the pain. She needed to see a doctor, the kids needed looking after, and she couldn't do either. And then our church family swung into action.
Two people who were here at the church took care of our kids in the nursery while we made plans. A couple others checked in to see how Casey was doing. I packed up the kids and took them home for naps, while another church member came by and picked up Casey. They drove her home, and then switched places with me so I could take Casey to the doctor. While we were there two different church members offered to provide us dinner. I came home to pick up a meal from one of them and feed the kids, and that church member went out and picked up Casey when she was ready to come home. (They also hug out at the house until I was done forcing my dog to puke up the grease he had eaten while we were gone, but that's a different story). And somewhere in the midst of all of that another church member texted to offer help any time we needed it. We were truly blessed to have such loving church neighbors.
And I do mean that, we are truly blessed. After all, as a pastor I got hired into this community. Literally from day one I've had support from this congregation. Most people who move into this community don't have that level of support. In fact, I expect that not even most of our own congregation know that there are so many people who are willing to help, because they don't yet have the relationships that make them comfortable asking. I hate to imagine what today would have been like if I had been working any other job and not had a church community to fall back on. And yet, that's likely the situation for most of my neighbors.
We cannot underestimate the value of this kind of active love. A few hours of emergency babysitting, a warm meal, an ear to listen--these can make the difference between hope and despair for a person facing a crisis. But here's the thing: I'm certain that none of our geographical neighbors knew that anything was going on. You couldn't tell just by looking at our house from the outside. The only people who knew were the ones we told. And it will be the same way in your neighborhood, and in this church. You won't even know about most crises unless you have the kind of relationship where (1) you're there when it happens or (2) they're comfortable asking for help. That's why the first step of neighboring is to learn your neighbors' names: it sets the foundation of future opportunities to connect with, love and serve your neighbors. 
Having leaned so heavily on this congregation through three pregnancies and a couple of medical emergencies, I can tell you that this community has made all the difference for us. I would love for us to make all the difference for the people in this community who don't already have that kind of support. Wouldn't that be amazing?

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