If you look closely at the pulpit of St. Thomas’, you will see two carved figures featured prominently. On the left, there is the great theologian and bishop St. Augustine of Hippo. On the right, is a man who came over a millennium later, the Rev. George Whitfield. Whitfield was a part of the mid-eighteenth century Great Awakening and his name is synonymous with “going out” in mission and evangelism. Our pulpit reflects that emphasis every service and every Sunday. It is within this context I would like to discuss the conditions in Southwest Houston.
Did you know that 1,900 of 2,200 of homes in Meyerland were flooded? That’s 86% of the homes. Surrounding neighborhoods have similar percentages. We all know from the news and from personal experience that people are much more isolated and much less connected than they used to be. Add two previous floods, the hemorrhage of jobs from the energy industry, the general transience of the global economy, and the political rancor of the past decade and the community disconnect is multiplied several times. People are intensely lonely, isolated, and hurting in our neighborhoods. You might be one of them. It just so happens we have a Savior who is infinitely interested in the lonely, in the isolated, and in the hurting.
When Harvey hit, St. Thomas’ sprang into action. We had parishioners rescuing people from their flooded homes and giving them shelter. We had crews going into peoples’ homes to muck them out and demo them. We had crews working in the church and school. We were the hands and feet of Christ in our community. You gave so much and did so much good. We can continue this work — continue the work of the Great Physician — just in a different and more long-term way. Like Whitfield, we can go where people are and invite them into our lives. In this, we can be a real galvanizing force in helping our church and community heal.
How can we do this? It’s really pretty easy. Are you going on a walk? Call a fellow parishioner and ask them to go with you. Watching a game or TV show? Ask a neighbor to come over and watch it with you. Share pizza or some other easy-to-fix meal with neighbors or with fellow parishioners. Get together and go to the zoo. It is really quite easy and the ministry you will provide will have incredible impact. It might open some important conversations. You might find that you are ministered to as well.
Another thing we can do is to continue working with Christian Community Service Center (CCSC). With them and their other partner churches, we can do so many things in service to those in need in our community — from fatherless children to single mothers trying to get a start in business to addiction ministry. And, we have a neighbor here in Nob Hill Apartments that we can continue to impact in Christ.
Mission and Evangelism are on the top of our list of priorities this year for good reason. They are the lifeblood of our response to the Gospel, our Faith, our church, and the very essence of what we confess to be true. “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” is one of our most poignant hymns. Let’s show this community they have a Friend in Jesus — and a friend in St. Thomas’.