In this (delayed) second instalment in our discussion on core values, we look at service and community and why they matter. This message includes a few folks talking about why their LifeConnect Groups are important to them. It’s based on Mark 10.35-45 and Hebrews 10.23-25. Watch or listen below!
Having written about the tragedy in Humboldt, Saskatchewan a few weeks ago, I was going to write today about the Southwest Airlines Pilot who successfully landed a plane with a non-working engine, a fan blade from which killed a passenger. Her testimony is remarkable.
But then someone decided to drive a van on a busy Toronto sidewalk on Monday.
Ten people were killed, and half again as many were injured. What was most notable about this tragedy, if one can find any good in it, is the fact that one lone police officer managed to arrest the van driver, within minutes of the whole episode beginning, and without firing a single shot.
On Wednesday, I wrote to the congregation I serve to encourage us not to be afraid in the wake of this event, that the best thing to do is to trust in the Lord and push on. Perhaps another point to emphasize as we continue to reel from this catastrophe is that it’s imperative for God’s people to be engaged in the lives of others, especially those who might seem unlovable.
The man who drove the van that killed ten innocent victims last Monday, according to research revealed online, was a troubled soul, and frustrated (for lack of a more sombre term) that he couldn’t get any dates with women. It was this, apparently, that led him to run over that crowd of pedestrians – mostly women – and to want the police to kill him.
To be sure, there will be those who think that he should have been killed, but that was not the arresting officer’s mandate. His mandate was de-escalation, which he performed in textbook fashion: weapon drawn, but not fired. Now, hopefully, the driver can receive both justice and the help he needs.
What could have prevented this man from evenwantingto do something like run over people? We may never know for sure, but I think it’s fair to say that experiencing more love would have helped. We don’t know what his relationship is like with his parents or his wider family, and we don’t know if he has any kind of relationship with a church or with the Lord.
The lesson for us is to love our kids, and all people we encounter, with the love of Jesus. Who knows what difference our care could make in the life of another person? Could our care save lives?
Possibly. What have we got to lose?
“Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love” (1 Corinthians 13.13b, The Message).
This is one of those months that has five Sundays in it. Any church treasurer I’ve known wishes that every month had five Sundays! While it doesn’t happen every month, I’ve often wondered whether the unusual nature of the rhythm-breaking fifth Sunday could be harnessed in some way. While we like the idea of an extra Sunday of offerings, perhaps that fifth Sunday could also benefit those outside the church.
A couple of years ago, one of our Encouragement subscribers, Sharon, told me a story (which she gave me permission to share) about what happens in her church on the fifth Sunday of the month. In her congregation, they gather for a short worship time, and then go into the community to help their neighbours.
Sign-up sheets are provided so that activities and helpers can be coordinated. The first time the church did it, one group went to a nursing home to visit residents who never get visitors. Another group planted a vegetable garden on church property so that fresh vegetables could be provided for their local food bank. Another group helped neighbours with physical challenges tend their gardens. And yet another group picked up trash near a railroad right-of-way.
“The response from the congregants and the community was amazing,” Sharon told me. “Great bonding, lots of laughter, many community members really impressed that we would leave church to come ‘out’ and help others. It was a most powerful experience.”
If the church of Jesus is going to grow as God intends, one thing we know for sure is that reaching our neighbours is key. I encourage you to consider this tangible way to reach out, whether on a fifth Sunday or some other time. God knows the difference you could make by being ‘neighbourly’.
“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Galatians 6.10, NLT).
Many Canadians – and even some from abroad – have been talking about the terrible tragedy of the accident that killed and injured so many people associated with the junior hockey team from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, that occurred last week.
As is customary in our social media age, people have done many things to mark their solidarity with the people affected by the accident. They’ve used #HumboldtStrong hashtags; they’ve worn t-shirts or hockey sweaters; they’ve set hockey sticks outside their front doors. Flags have been lowered to half-staff.
Beyond all these symbolic gestures, what has struck me is the way in which the team’s chaplain, Sean Brandow, spoke into the situation at a vigil. (You can watch or read his entire speech here.) He did not gild the lily; he was raw and honest in dealing with the pain and anguish of the tragedy. But he also proclaimed the hope that exists in the midst of sorrow and grief. He didn’t claim to know all the answers. He didn’t claim to understand the mysterious ways of the Lord. But he pointed to the One who has all this figured out.
Brandow said, in part, “I don’t claim to understand how this seems like it’s in God’s control at all, but it is. He’s still on the throne, he’s still God.” That was a statement of faith that everyone present needed to hear.
It’s a statement of faith that you and I need to hear.
Whatever we may go through that we can’t fathom…whatever may occur that seems to suggest that God’s lost control of the situation…God is still on the throne. It may not appearto be the case, but when we make a statement of faith, we’re not talking about appearances. We’re talking about objective truth.
It is not up to followers of Jesus to have everything figured out. It is up to us to proclaim our faith.
So, by all means, be #HumboldtStrong. But as a Christ-follower, above all, be #JesusStrong.
“The Lord is my Shepherd…” (Psalm 23.1)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation…” (Psalm 27.1)
“God is our refuge and strength…” (Psalm 46.1)
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3.20, NLT).