“…Lord, when was it that we saw you were hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you drink?... truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Mt. 25:37,40
November is the month which propels us toward the holidays. If you thought summer went by quickly, hang on to your hats: Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas won’t be far behind.
So, before the rush is on, let’s take a moment to think about how we are going to express our gratitude to God for all the blessings that have been and will be ours this year. So often we get so caught up in “catching up” that we don’t take the time to think about and plan for what we want to do to offer our thanksgiving.
I don’t know about you, but the events of these past months have been weighing on my heart and mind, especially the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew, in Haiti and the Southeastern United States, as well as the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.
We’ve all heard the news. We’ve seen the pictures. As of October 13, more than 11 million people have been killed or forced to flee in Syria. 13.5 million still remain in-country, while refugee camps are burgeoning. The number of refugees is staggering: In Lebanon, 1,069,111; in Jordan, 637,859; in Iraq, 245,543; in Egypt, 118,512; in Turkey, 2,620,553, and in Europe, 1,000,000 people have applied for entrance. Haiti’s story is equally tragic. Only 6 years after the devastating earthquake that killed 300,000 people there and left 2.3 million people homeless (60,000 of which are still homeless and living in camps), Hurricane Matthew ravaged the island, leaving somewhere between 500-1000 dead and 1.4 million people in urgent need of assistance. In the United States, our fellow citizens from Florida to the Carolinas are trying to recover from Matthew’s massive flooding.
I was talking with our recently returned missionary to Cameroon and the Central African Republic (CAR), Susan Smith, about the disastrous effects of the civil war on the people of CAR. She was there in the midst of the relief efforts to provide food and aid to the victims of the violence and upheaval there. I was pleased to hear her testimony that it was the ELCA’s Disaster Response that was most effective in delivering aid. Our relief agency worked closely with the local people to determine what was needed and how the aid could be put to the best use. Lutheran Disaster Response is also at work in the Middle East among the refugees, in Haiti and in the Southeastern USA.
There are lots of worthy causes to which we can contribute our thank offerings this holiday season. Let’s seriously and prayerfully consider the Lutheran Disaster Response fund as the recipient of our thank offerings. The suffering from these crises is great and our confidence can be equally great that our offerings will be put to good use for the people suffering in Syria, Haiti and the Southeastern United States. Envelopes will be available, beginning in November, at all of our PLUM churches. You can designate where you want your offering to go or simply indicate that it can be used wherever it is most needed. Just place your envelope in the offering plate and your donation will be made through your home church. This is our opportunity to provide tangible help to those people caught up in a wretched war and to those trying to recover from the worst hurricane to hit our shores in a decade.
Let us pray that our offerings will help bring the warmth and light of Christ into their lives and may God be gracious in the granting of our prayer.
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773