To many who were not directly impacted by the tornadoes on Memorial Day of this year, the event likely seems to be a distant memory. But to those who still suffer the devastating impact, we, as Christians, are called to be Christ’s hands and feet. We are called to be present in the midst of those suffering and to offer love, prayers and material assistance to ease the burdens of our sisters and brothers for whom recovery for some will take years.
Teresa of Avila, the 16th century mystic wrote: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
As a pastor in the United Methodist tradition, I was filled with joy as I read the update in our District newsletter about the work of two Greene County congregations. Members of these congregations have tirelessly been Christ’s presence to those affected by the tornadoes. Aley United Methodist Church and St. Andrews United Methodist Church have both participated by providing trained early response team members to work with 46 Greene County residents. Chainsaw teams have cut up debris and team members have moved the debris to the street at no charge. Others have participated by providing food to the early response team members. In serving, members of these congregations have learned the importance of care givers taking care of themselves, also. Through their shared work on these early response projects, members are also beginning to see other possibilities for shared mission and ministry in the future.
The congregation of St. Andrews United Methodist Church is collecting items that families can use and this may grow into putting together household starter kits for people who have lost everything to the storm damage. Aley United Methodist Church has deployed prayer teams which have been well received in the affected neighborhoods.
I give thanks to all within and outside of my faith tradition who have responded with compassion and generosity. They have truly been Christ’s hands and feet during this time of recovery and rebuilding. I pray they find God’s blessing in the blessing of others.
Rev. Beth Holten, is the Director of Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greene County/Schneider House of Hope.