LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR
November 17, 2012 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
I just got off the phone with my daughter Grace who is Pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Belmar, New Jersey. Most of us are aware of the devastation on the Jersey Shore and in New York by now. I broached the subject last week and am grateful for the response from that article. Grace has been touring some of the worst hit areas with the Fire Chief of the county, as no one is allowed into those zones unless they are in an emergency vehicle. She had another appointment with the Chief an hour after we hung up the phone.
I mentioned to Grace that my family used to vacation on Long Beach Island. Dad would rent a cottage for a week. Long Beach Island is a barrier island off the coast north of Atlantic City. I used to walk down the single road on the island between the ocean and the bay and attend sessions at the Harvey Cedars Bible Conference. That was a long time ago when there were just small vacation cottages on the island. Recently some large homes have been built. There is nothing left on the island now. It is all gone.
The electricity is back on in most of Belmar. There are areas still without power because to turn the power on in those areas would be very dangerous. The storm destroyed the power system and until it can be reconstructed there will be no electricity.
Tomorrow (Sunday) the Presbyterians and the Baptists will worship together at Calvary. Last week the Presbyterians had a small prayer meeting in their own sanctuary just so the people could see why they could not worship there until it was restored. The “ecumenical movement” is not a modern add-on to Christianity. The followers of Jesus have always been one family, whether they have recognized it or not. Paul told the Ephesian congregation, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (4:4-6).” When the occasion calls for it, we know we are one.
I was reading this week various reports of effects of “Sandy.” In New York City, according to recent polls, only three percent of the population are active church attending Christians. Following the storm the church members were on the streets of their respective neighborhood asking what they could do to help.
I have no knowledge of why God permits catastrophes like “Sandy.” I can only guess at what good God will bring out of this particular “bad.” Christian churches and organizations will respond as they have responded throughout history because that is what their Master taught them to do. Others will also respond because they have been exposed to a moral climate created by biblical faith.
We are living in a time of horrific natural catastrophes. If God is trying to get our attention I think the effort is a success. Now individuals and society as a whole needs to consider a response.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at <email@example.com>).