Matt’s Musing

September 5, 2021

Church News, Community Ministry, Sermons

Dear St. Paul’s Friends and Family,

In July 2007 members of our youth group and adult chaperones traveled to New Orleans to assist in rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.  Planning for the trip took well over a year and included numerous fundraisers, meetings with group participants and the United Church of Christ partners in New Orleans, and innumerable prayers.  

Memories of the trip flooded back to me as I saw images and heard the news reports this week following Hurricane Ida.  The good news is that Katrina’s flooding was not repeated during Ida, however millions still suffer in the Gulf Coast region.  Wide-spread power outages have made scarce the necessities of life.  

Little Farms United Church of Christ was the hub of the UCC’s Katrina relief efforts.  I learned the other day that they lost half of their roof during Ida.  Their website makes it clear that although their building is temporarily closed, the ministry of the church continues.  

In our gospel lesson for this week, we read about Jesus’ less than kind response to a foreign woman who was looking for a miracle for her daughter.  Jesus tried to send her away by convincing her that he was not sent to help her kind of people.  The quick-witted woman, with a touch of humor, persuades him to change his mind.  Her daughter is healed.  

What do we make of Jesus’ less than charitable response?  A crucial piece of the Christian tradition is the belief that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine.  Perhaps Jesus had an all too familiar human response when confronted with a person who didn’t look like him, worship like him, and wasn’t part of his tribe.  I must admit, that a significant part of me was quite nervous as our departure date got closer for our New Orleans trip.  My nerves weren’t only driven by taking a group of teenagers 1,500 miles away from home.  I was also nervous about the unknowns of that place.  How would the people receive us?  Would we be able to adjust well to a more metropolitan and diverse culture?  Would we, no, would I, be able to put aside my own preconceived notions about people and even prejudices and receive strangers with hospitality and gratitude?

Our trip to New Orleans was a life-changing experience for our group.  The people we met and their resilient spirit not only broadened our horizons, but inspired us to see the possibilities that are presented even in the midst of adversity.  Like the woman in the gospel story, with a little humor and a lot of perseverance, we can help to bring healing and life to all kinds of situations.  

In closing, if you’d like to contribute to Hurricane Ida relief, the United Church of Christ has set up a relief fund to assist our church partners in the Gulf Coast.  Simply notate “Ida” and the amount on your offering and we will see that they get it.

Blessings for your journey,

Pastor Matt

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