Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 2005



Count your everyday blessings

The coffee has just finished brewing, and the aroma stirs me from my computer desk. Slinking back to work with a hot cup of coffee and a crisp new apple I realize how good I have it simply to be safe, well-fed, dry, and at home in my modest house -- one half of a cramped 80-year-old duplex with peeling paint. 

But I live in Pennsylvania. My electricity has not been interrupted, the supermarket across the street is well stocked, all the gas stations are open, life is good. Where do you live?

Thousands of Americans displaced by Katrina and Rita have no home. For them, life's essentials have come down to this: Hot meals, clothes to wear and a place indoors to sleep. For a month now, many of them have been living in cheap hotels, school gymnasiums and church halls.

God's people have shown enormous generosity for evacuees displaced by 2005's back-to-back hurricanes. They opened their doors to brothers and sisters who had nowhere else to go. Churches have fed them, housed them, clothed them, helped them get jobs, helped their children get schooling, and on and on.

"Without churches, you quickly realize driving almost anywhere in Texas or Louisiana, there would be whole tent cities of homeless, people living in rest areas and parks," Mike Nichols writes in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column. "The churches, practicing what they preach, have acted as saviors here." (Read about the work churches are doing in Gleanings.)

It's appropriate that we Christians open our arms to people with nowhere else to go. We worship the God who came to earth as a child born in a barn because his parents had no place decent to spend the night. Moreover, Jesus commands us in Matthew 25 to care for the homeless, the naked, the hungry, the alien in our midst.

The cleanup from the disasters of 2005 will take years, and it will take weeks and months for residents to get back on their feet. Churches expect to continue to provide housing, food and support for victims. 

Some are worried that Christians may get weary and bored, losing interest in helping out. If this happens in your congregation, remind people that it's easy to take everyday blessings for granted. Blessings like a safe place to live, electricity, hot coffee and fresh apples. Those are things many residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas will crave for years to come.
-Rob Blezard, webmaster and editor

New This Week:

  Ideas for preaching on stewardship
Most pastors face it every year: What to do about a stewardship sermon? It has to be Biblical, thoughtful and motivating. Here are some suggestions -- texts and thoughts for two series of sermons on stewardship. Of course, any one of the sermons would stand on its own. Click here for "Ideas." From Lifeway Ministries.

 The antidote for 'compassion fatigue'
" Sometimes we see problems that are too big for our resources, and we know we cannot manage. But for those of us who are Christian there is always another way to look at it.  Our call is not to fix everything.  Our call is not to make things right.  Our call is to care and to share and to be the hands of Christ in the world. " Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

 Three faces of greed
"Sin typically cloaks itself in some story or rationalization that mitigates or hides our wrongdoing from ourselves," says author W. Jay Wood, in this brilliant essay. So it is with greed -- arguably America's most insidious weakness. "How we camouflage greed depends on the particular species of greed to which we're tempted." Read this essay for insights, including "when good stewardship is bad." Click here for three faces of greed, from Christianity Today.

Katrina: 'Act of God' or consequence of human sin?
The media describe Katrina as a natural disaster, but the head of the Reformed Church in America asks, "Just how 'natural' was this disaster?" Wes Granberg-Michaelson says Katrina and its aftermath reveal devastating failures of stewardship that are rooted in human sinfulness. A searing critique.  Click here for "Katrina."

Stewardship is more than money - it's your life!
  "Holistic stewardship encompasses all that we are, all that we hope to become. We use four c words to summarize scores of biblical passages upon which we base our theology of holistic stewardship: conversion, commitment, communion, and concern," says this insightful article from the Alban Institute's magazine, Congregations. Click here for "Stewardship is more than money." This week's Treasure Chest offering.