I had my Wednesday afternoon all planned: in the office from 1 until 3, a pastoral visit in a parishioner's home at 3, followed by visits to two local nursing homes. However, I make plans with the knowing that God might direct my steps elsewhere.
Such was the case on this particular day when the tornado siren sounded just before 3PM.
The church that I serve has a Child Development Center on the building's first floor, and the church staff has offices on second and third floors. Everyone made their way down to the first floor, where teachers were rolling cribs into the safest part of the hallway and toddlers lined the walls. It was the expected chaotic calm: chaotic simply from the reality of 50 children under the age of 5 in a confined space, calm from the teachers' orderly following of procedure while caring for the children.
Thankfully this story does not end with the touching down of a tornado. However, the story does end with the church staff seated on the floor with the children and teachers for over thirty minutes. Every church I've pastored for the past 11 years has had a daycare or after-school program, but this was the first time I could remember the church's staff and the childcare staff being together in the same space. Isn't it strange how it takes the threat of disaster to force us into the same rooms with one another?
The church's youth & children's director led a group of three-year olds in singing their ABCs. The music minister fed a bottle to a baby. The music intern, on his first day of work, sang a baby to sleep. The office manager sat with a slightly-scared two year old while monitoring the weather from her phone. I wandered from one group of kids to another, showing pictures and videos of my dog. All the while, the caregivers kept giving care. What united us was the desire to keep everyone safe.
So often, churches that provide childcare programs have two entities under one steepled roof. The childcare program and the church operate largely apart from one another as separate organizations. Yet a tornado siren reminds us that at the end of the day, we are one in ministry.
Such is the case with our larger Church. Some of our divisions within the Church are healthy, such as small groups within a large congregation where we can get to know one another better. Other divisions, such as forming factions based on our own opinions, are harmful. All the while there is a siren, the Holy Spirit, calling us back "to the Rock that is higher than I" (Psalm 61:2).
As the body of Christ, feet planted on the rock of Jesus Christ, let us focus on caring for one another and keeping one another safe as turmoil swirls. We may not always agree, but on the first floor of our beliefs should be the sacrificial service of Jesus Christ. I am grateful that I work in a building whose first floor reminds me of who Jesus is everyday.
all good things to each of you,