This weekend our church has been engaged waist deep (figuratively speaking) serving evacuees from the life-boggling Calgary flood waters. Some 100,000 people have been displaced throughout the crisis, many of whom are still waiting to return home, unsure of what they’ll find when they return.
Some 30 residents of The Mustard Seed have been camping out in our church for the past five days. Our church folks have been loving on them and serving in truly heroic ways.
Last Thursday I went to bed largely ignorant of the magnitude of the crisis before us. Friday morning, there was no room for ignorance. Yahoo! news helped get me up to speed, complete with jaw-dropping photos and video. The Calgary flooding, as bad as it was, paled in comparison to what was happening in High River, for example.
“Uh, Father… should we be involved in this somehow?” I prayed, knowing the answer but not the how. Maybe five minutes later the Mustard Seed called. Half an hour later I was driving through slathering rain to prepare the church for our share of the evacuees.
My first call went to a close friend, a landscaper with the day off. From there, people started popping by and volunteering beyond my wildest imagination. I spent the rest of that first day like a deer in headlights, totally out of my depth, as people came by and offered to do what they do best in service of this cause.
It reminds me of the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, where the Council is raging over how to destroy the one ring. Sauron whispers over the din as chaos begins to exert it’s dark rule. Frodo breaks the spell:
Frodo: I will take it!
[they fall silent, looking at him]
Frodo: I will take the Ring to Mordor! Though… I do not know the way.
Humbled by Frodo’s sacrificial spirit, the others surrender to the wisdom and humility of the moment as well:
Aragorn: If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. You have my sword…
Legolas: And you have my bow.
Gimli: And my axe.
That’s what’s happened this week: I feel like a weak little hobbit, with little to offer but a willingness to get in the game. But then, the swords, axes, and bows arrive: A guy with a drill. People bringing baking. Volunteering a night shift. Washing dishes. Hanging out with the least of these. A doctor volunteering time to dispense medicines and more.
In LOTR, the hobbits become the heroes. In this story, though, the heroes are the army of servants marching into this need and meeting it any way they can.
When a need rises in your sphere of influence, maybe you can offer your sword. Your bow. Your axe. Or maybe just your willingness to help.