The above title is based on a report by Linda Macqueen of the Lutheran Church of Australia’s Lutheran magazine on the aftermath of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand. It is in reference to the congregation of St. Paul’s Lutheran in Christchurch, who will be meeting for worship Sunday outside of their building which has been declared unsafe to enter. They are hoped to be joined in prayer by Lutherans and other Christians throughout the world as the Lutheran Church of New Zealand’s president, Rev. Robert Erickson, calls for this Sunday to be a day of prayer for those affected and those working for on their behalf.
Though this title is in reference to a single, and powerful, act of worship at St. Pauls, it can aptly describe the role of the church overall. As reports slowly roll out because of lack of electricity and communication they are filled with pieces about how people are serving the neighbor and being served by the neighbor in their time of need. I have read about Australian doctors, in Christchurch for a convention, who are without shelter or water but are still finding ways to serve, of Church World Services finding ways to stay in communication and continue to serve the population even though they do not have access to their downtown offices, of pastor David Lipsys who was on the Northern island of New Zealand at the time of the quake and is trying to find a way back to be with his wife and congregation in their time of need, and so on.
Part of what is so amazing is that this area is still recovering from the aftermath of an earthquake that struck earlier in September of last year. Through it all they have continued to be strong and even to increase their support of brothers and sisters around the world in places like Haiti, Chile and Pakistan who have also been struck by natural disasters. So hopefully this Sunday you will be able to say a prayer for the people of Christchurch and the surrounding area as they continue to find ways of living into and through God’s grace amidst tragedy. For though the building crumbles, the church still stands.
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