At the First Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., church members held a prayer meeting for the 70 or so evacuees who have been using the building as a shelter.
The Rev. Bill Shiell, pastor of the church, said churches involved in the relief effort are experiencing a spiritual awakening — about social service as well as faith. Church members now have a new sense of purpose and are making connections with people they never would have met otherwise, Shiell said.
The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of "The Purpose Driven Life," toured Gulf Coast churches over several days and said he was struck by the level of cooperation between black and white churches. One church that is providing shelter said it held its first wedding ever for a black couple, both evacuees.
"This has changed our church," Shiell said. "Revival here has already happened, by virtue of our hunger to do something. When the Red Cross called, we were ready. If that isn't revival, I don't know what is."
We all need to learn a lesson here. Faith must never be separated from social service.
The presumption of the AP writer (did you catch it above?) is that the two are not the same. But the Gospel of the Kingdom of God does not create false dualisms--as if prayer (or Bible study or evangelism or any of the other pious things that we label "sacred acts") is a function of "faith," while serving others in the wake of a tragedy (or working for systemic social change or proactively seeking racial reconciliation or advocating for the poor) is a non-sacred function of something else.
Only God can bring this kind of "good" out of a horrific event like a hurricane (Romans 8:28). Will we listen and learn?
technorati: spiritual formation social action