MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What God Sightings can you share this day? When we ask that question, some of you look down (must be something interesting in that bulletin or you are thinking hard about which God Sighting you will share, smile), some of you smile and some of you can’t wait to get your hand up to share.
At first it was uncomfortable to share these stories. But now it seems as if you come prepared and can’t wait to tell us. That is so wonderful. God sightings are everywhere. There are dozens every day. If we open ourselves to “let God” then God Sightings are everywhere.
I would like to share a couple of God Sightings with you. One is personal and one involves one of our congregations.
Peter’s (my better half) teammate handed out very small, flat, wrapped gifts to each of the ten teammates with a note. “The cost of a life is sometimes just a kind word or a smile – an indication that somewhere somehow someone cares. I’d like to challenge you to give what is in the envelope to someone who is cold, hungry, or in need with your own hands, along with a kind word for them. I hope that this gift will enable you to say – I wish you a better, warmer, fuller day – and to be able to say it with not only words but with your action too.” There was $100 in each “gift”.
The other God Sighting, involved Messiah Lutheran Church in Munhall on December 16th. There was a fire at the Met Tower apartment building just down the street from the church. There were fire-fighters, police officers, civilian volunteers working very hard to rescue 80 seniors and people with disabilities. There are 104 apartments in the building.
Messiah is the “warming center” for disasters in Munhall. At the crack of dawn you found Jim Lebeda warming up the church, starting coffee and preparing for whatever would happen that day. Elinor Lebeda arrived shortly after Jim and neither sat down until late that night. I can tell you that no one had time to talk on the phone or even go to the rest room.
At first, it seemed as if no one would be coming. However, around 9 AM the PAT buses, school buses, Salvation Army trucks, and Red Cross trucks and news media started piling in the driveway. Mercy Hospital had dropped off dozens of blankets. The Red Cross started cooking and organizing people. The Salvation Army was organizing clothing and bags of toiletries. Family Links arrived to help with any mental health issues. The Area Agency on Aging were there to help in any way. A neighbor, who called herself Angie, came and brought coats and helped move people into the building. The girl scout leader that uses Messiah for a meeting place, arrived early and stayed late doing anything that needed done. Neighbors were bringing in food, socks, clothing and who knows what else. As we had a dog and a cat in the mix, along with 50 people, someone brought in dog food, cat food and made water bowls for the animals.
It was around 9 PM before everyone had a place to stay, had their medications and some items from their apartments.
As Vicar Karyn and I went from table to table talking and praying with the residents and their families, we learned a lot about their lives, their fears and their hopes. We watched residents helping and worrying about their friends in the building. Many went from despair to hope. Church members came in and helped. The local priest was there as well as a pastor who heard that a couple of his parishioners were in the building and wanted to check in with them.
God Sightings? If one were to doubt that God is at work in our lives, the day of the fire would have changed your attitude. God, the Father, God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit was very much involved in the two God Sightings I’ve just described. May you see God in all that you do and as you live out the day to day “stuff”.
Merry Christmas and a very God-centered New Years and many, many thanks to all who helped with the disaster. What blessings we experienced that day.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sheraden, 3102 Sherwood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15204 412-331-0600