As I listen to Mickey Mouse Playhouse in the background, I am hanging out with Micah while Paul and Stacy are at the second Chemo session (thank God for Chemo & thank God for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse…) & reflecting on the weekend. This weekend has been full of opportunities to ‘be the Church’ together.
If you’ve been around New Hope at all in the last few months, you know that we’ve been walking through the difficult diagnosis of Hodgkin’s in our lead pastor, Paul. He has had a biopsy, faced mortality, tumor removed, diagnosis given, insurance dropped, recovered from surgery, head shaved, and now he is on Chemo treatment number 2. In a couple hours it will be 2 down, 10 to go. We have watched and prayed as people we love walk through a season filled with uncertainty, frustration, God’s faithfulness, unexpected blessings, and everything in between.
This weekend, I was struck by how Paul and Stacy (and Rebecca, Jacob & Micah) are loved by all of you. I watched as a gifted group of people took the lead on a benefit, and many others came in to serve in a bunch of different ways. To everyone – from the person who sold tickets to all their friends to those who worked tirelessly for hours on this event, I just want to say what a beautiful expression of love that was. None of us can physically walk in Paul and Stacy’s shoes right now, but we can follow God’s lead and be his hands and feet. There have been sooo many ways people have helped: with meals, cards, phone calls, lawn mowing --- and many more . I feel as though God is using this situation to teach us to hear the cries of others and learn to be his hands and feet on a regular basis.
The second beautiful example of New Hope ‘being the Church’, was at Second Harvest on Saturday. About 30 people bagged 3,000 bags of corn flakes that will (within a couple weeks) be in the hands of people who need them. I was struck by the camaraderie and friendship I saw. The goal was to help out an organization that is doing a lot of good in the Valley; friendship was the beautiful byproduct. It was neat to go to the gatherings on Sunday and see folks who (previous to Second Harvest) had never spoken to each other now sharing friendship. Worshipping with music on the weekend has new depth when time has been spent during the week worshipping through serving. I look forward to many more opportunities to worship together OUTSIDE New Hope’s walls.
The third and final example I witnessed this weekend came because of a death of a Son/Brother of some New Hopers. I have watched as individuals have comforted, cried with, hugged, prayed for, fed, and organized on behalf of Barb Witherstine & John and Melissa Ciavarella. Today after the funeral, New Hope will host the funeral dinner. I’ve already seen a team of people there to set up tables and another team bringing in food for the family. Again, we cannot walk in their shoes, but we can walk as closely as God leads. I am so thankful to see people step in.
The cries are endless. Our role is to listen and act as God leads. None of us can do it all – nor is that God’s desire. Our role is to ask God to help us hear the cries, move us out of our comfort/our schedule/our plan and put us in a place where we hear the cry of those outside our walls and in who are hurting. God desires that we hear what he hears. Just as we learned in the teaching this weekend, when we are with the hurting, the hungry, the oppressed, we are with God.