Our family had the honor of attending worship at Our Savior Lutheran Church in
Washington, Illinois last Sunday. It was the first Sunday the folks at Our
Savior have been able to meet in their building since the devastating tornado
that struck the area two Sundays prior. The church, which sits atop a low hill,
sustained significant damage with lumber piercing the roof in several places.
But the damage to the church building is nothing compared to the complete
destruction of homes down the hill just to the west. From the church door, one
sees an entire neighborhood in ruins.
Our Savior’s Pastor Herren told the story of the congregation seeking shelter in the church basement and then being among the first of the first responders to go to the neighbors' houses to see who needed help. In the days immediately following the tornado, Our Savior has become one of the sites for coordinating the many volunteers who have come from across the Midwest to help. “We've been placed here for this time." Pastor Herren told the folks last Sunday–some of whom had lost their own homes. “We are God’s hands and feet to bring service in this moment."
His words echo those of Mordecai to Esther, in a reading to be featured at Advent Christmas Vespers this year. Queen Esther was another of God's people in the right place at the right time with the means to help.
Sometimes, it takes a crisis for our calling to become to become visible to us. It need not. At Monday Morning Prayer this week, senior Jacob Igney quoted the advent hymn “Prepare the Royal Highway, the King of Kings is Near” and then reinterpreted this highway-preparing work (which I had always imagined as my own pious readiness for Christ's second coming) as a series of kindnesses that we might extend to others as signs of Christ's love for them. “Something as simple as holding open a door,” he said.
God has come to serve us in Jesus Christ and gives us the life of Christ so that we might become agents of that same life for the world in both large and small ways–in such a time as this.
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.