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Christ in action

IN THE PAST few weeks I have visited some of our congregations and communities that have been directly affected by flooding in the south-east corner of Queensland.

I also hope to visit Central Queensland and North Queensland over the next few months.

These visits have taught me a lot about what it means for us to be the Church, the body of Christ amongst broken and damaged communities.

As I saw thousands of people go out into their communities to help clean up the mess and feed and clothe family, friends and strangers, I caught a glimpse of what God’s reign on earth might look like.

Help was offered freely and unconditionally.

People helped others, never asking about what they believed, how they lived or what their personal relationships looked like.

Those who needed help received the offers of care and support without question and those who were in a position to help did so without prejudice.

I wonder what the church would look like if we could be as generous and unconditional in our welcome and care when the
crisis has passed.

I pray that all who served others during this trying time will know the gracious love and blessing of God as they move into
the long recovery phase.

We know that amidst all this generosity and compassion there were reminders of human sinfulness as looters and frauds took advantage of the vulnerable; but such behaviour was overwhelmed by love.

I would love to see us live that approach to community engagement all the time.

Therefore I urge our congregation members not to forget those they helped.

Why not make contact with people you helped in a couple of months’ time to see how they are going.

Why not arrange a recovery BBQ around Easter as a way of saying thank you to all who helped and assuring those who
have been devastated that they are not forgotten and that we realise their recovery will take many months.

This Easter should be one of the most meaningful celebrations we have experienced. Easter, from Palm Sunday through to the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the trial and crucifixion, the silence of the tomb of death and the triumphant resurrection, offers a powerful motif that can help people see their own flood, cyclone or earthquake experience taken up into the experience of the incarnate Son of God.

I encourage all within the Uniting Church to be open to sitting with those who have lost loved ones, homes and businesses; those who cannot see a bright future.

Their days in the tomb may be much longer than the three days of Jesus, so I ask you to be patient and present with them until, by God’s grace, they experience the resurrection light of Christ in their personal situation.

This year the Easter postcard says: “Hungry? Satisfy your sweet tooth and your soul this Easter”.

Let’s help people explore the Easter story and relate it to their own experiences.

We know that soon the public message will give the impression that people should have moved on from the events of January and February this year.

However, our experience as a community of compassion tells us that such shocking experiences create deep wounds and leave painful scars for a long time.

Our knowledge and understanding of God’s gracious presence should give us the confidence to take time to journey through the healing that will be so necessary for many in our communities.

I sat with a farmer in the Lockyer and asked him how we in the church can help him throughthis. He said there are two things; encourage people to “eat more fruit and vegetables” and “don’t forget us”.

I urge you to think about how these principles might apply in your situation.

Support the small businesses in your area and don’t forget those whose situation may not be very visible.

Let’s not leave our sisters and brothers languishing in fear and death, but stay with them until the new life dawns.