I know I shouldn't marvel at it.
I know I should expect it.
But every time it happens, I get this deep swelling sense of pride that I belong to an institution--actually it's more than that--a body of people who care for others and come through time and again and again. The consistency that I see in my congregation with helping others is nothing short of marvelous.
We were hit the weekend of Thanksgiving with the news that one of our young members had contracted a staph infection that went sceptic. Within 36 hours of the first phone call I received, the 27 year old had died. It hit the congregation pretty hard. For most of us, a young person dying seems pretty senseless, and most folks knew that the family who suffered this loss also lost a daughter tragically years ago. Grief was heaped upon grief. Old wounds that never fully healed were opened once again.
But that was just part of the story. The family who lost their son was not a family of means by any stretch. They make too much to be on any government assistance, but they don't make enough to take care of all the things they needed to take care of--like so many families in our nation now. When tragedy strikes, and money is required to pay for services (hospitalization, funeral expenses, etc.) there are no savings to dip into. There's nothing. Nada. Zip. Not only is there grief, there is tremendous stress financially as well.
The congregation I serve responded immediately. Hours upon hearing the news, we had already set in motion the wheels to cover the family's funeral costs. They did nothing exuberant. They chose cremation. The local funeral home worked with them to help them out. (Right now, I'm going to give a shout out to all our local funeral homes that I've worked with here: Knesek in Sealy and Bellville, Schmidt in Bellville, and Henneke in Columbus. These folks are tremendously good folks. They aren't corporate, and they each have a heart and compassion for the folks they work with. They aren't after as much as they can get from grieving families, and I'm proud to know and work with each of them.) The expenses for the services amounted to right at $3,300. That's pretty inexpensive for funeral services, but it was still much more than the family could afford.
In less than a week, contributions amounting to $2,300 have already come in. More is on the way that I know of. I don't anticipate contributions to fall short, but even if they do, the congregation council has already agreed to cover the rest through our community care fund.
Compassion. Generosity. Caring. Without a second thought.
Time and again, I have seen this from this congregation. Time and again, I am thankful for their response to such matters in life. I am proud to serve as their pastor and humbled by their example.
For my congregation members who read this may I have the audacity to quote Jesus, "Well done good and faithful servants!"