My question of the year is, "How do we 'be church' other than 11:00 am Sunday morning?" I've asked it at board meetings, and commission meetings and just about everywhere people will listen. I'm convinced that IF we are going to 'be church' in the present and beyond, we have to address this question. This weekend God knocked me over with an answer. Perhaps it's one among many that I will see now that my eyes have been opened.
We got a call yesterday from a woman who has turned to us for help in the past. Simple (but physical) things, like moving or needing some basic furniture. She came out of the hospital following surgery to learn that she could get out of her lease due to mold issues and had a condo to move into that an acquaintance was renting. BUT, it meant she had to move today. (Also her doctors said she couldn't even lift her cats for a couple days due to the surgery.) Her children were either working or out of town. She called the church. But our secretary took the day off and I was in and out with errands. I happened to think that I should check messages when I brought food to the church for a lunch we are fixing tomorrow and there was her plea recorded in our messages. I didn't know what we could do at that point. So I put out a couple feelers and didn't even call her back at first. Here's what happened.
1. The BVS (Brethren Volunteer Service) orientation unit that is staying in our church said they could help from 9:45-11:00 a.m. They all volunteered, it was a choice, by setting aside an hour of their free time today.
2. My husband had a rare weekend off and drove our pick-up truck home from its usual parking place at his work.
3. The man from our congregation who has been involved with the person's past moves called me back this morning willing to give as much time as needed. (and the back of an SUV)
We met at church and arrived with a pick-up, large van, and 17 people. (Many of whom were young, which is always a help from my 59 year old perspective.) We emptied almost all her big things in one trip and loaded up our truck and other vehicle for the 2nd. The BVS group went off to their next scheduled event on the DC Mall.
That left the three of us, aging folks to unload the big 2nd load. Then another little happening 'intervened'. Not know she would be moving, she had previously arranged to get a dining room table and chairs from a group called Share that gives away donated furniture to qualified people. They arrived as we were about to depart on the 2nd load. Three strong guys. They were wiling to move the delivery to her new apartment nearby. They did so and when they were done unloading the table and chairs, they helped us with the items that we were having trouble lifting ourselves. UP TWO FLIGHTS OF STEPS! How's that for a labor of love?
When we returned for a last trip of rocking chairs and miscellaneous bags and items, we were wearing pretty thin. One of us could no longer climb stairs because the old injured knee was giving out. A few items were awkward and somewhat heavy when you added in the steps. The another little set of 'angels' arrived - in the form of two Mormon missionaries. These two young guys took over at just the right moment and made several trips up the steps with the items we were struggling to unload. They were gracious, thanked US for letting them help, and went on their way.
Our women in distress was in tears off and on as this all unfolded. From last night's worry before my call back to her, to the unloading of all those volunteers in her year, this was a miracle in her book. She saw us as an answer to her most desperate prayer. We made one last trip with a large tree and lawn furniture on our way home and of course, the maintenance supervisor we had met earlier was there to open the locked entrance so we could put the last items inside her building. After a while, you begin to SEE the angels and expect them to show up.
I hadn't seen 'angels' since a trip to Italy made with 5 clergy women from a Lily grant. Perhaps that's another story, but let's just say, angels come late at night to train stations when buses don't. And angles come in the form a young woman from New Jersey, who speaks fluent Italian, knows the bus routes and are named "Gabriella"!
So God has evidently decided that if folks at Arlington CoB are WILLING to 'be church' other than Sunday morning, there will be work for us to do! As Paul says in this week's text, THANKS BE TO GOD!