This week, be a helper

Published 10:45 am Thursday, September 13, 2018

Chances are pretty good that you will hear more than your share of Noah’s Ark jokes this week. Memories of a dry summer have been washed away by all the rain we have had recently, even before the arrival of a hurricane whose presence brought concern that we would have more rain than we can handle.

As we have seen, that is nothing to joke about. The rains that hit us back in May forced our local Food Pantry, FACES, to throw out a substantial amount of food. Likewise, all of the people who make up the faith community of the Islamic Center of Prince Edward County saw their mosque suffer water damage which resulted in the loss of several prayer rugs. As these groups have rebuilt, the thought of much more rain has to be disconcerting.

We have seen the power of rain, and we have seen the power of other storms. This past Tuesday was the 17th commemoration of the attacks on 9-11. Just the mention of those terror-filled days are enough to bring back memories that make us shudder, memories of a time in which we felt that events were spinning way out of control.

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But one thing gives us hope. When the attacks of 9-11 occurred, people rallied around each other, giving support as we all started our collective effort to rebuild. There were still some scary moments, about what attack would happen next, or the fears of others who were blamed for the terror. But people banded together – Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, male and female, all kinds of skin colors.

Likewise, when the rains hit in May a group of people from all parts of the Farmville community came to FACES and the Islamic Center to help the cleanup that was necessary before the rebuilding could begin. People who may not have had a lot in common found common cause in working to rebuild a network of compassion through the giving of food to the needy, and the respect of religious freedom for all people.

We suffer together, we work together, we rebuild together. That’s what it means to “love one another,” Jesus’ commandment to all of his disciples. That’s what it means for Peter to get a vision on a rooftop in the 10th chapter of Acts that tells him that what God has created we are not to call unclean. We are called to be together and to work for the welfare of the community in which we have been planted.

The late Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister whose television ministry touched the lives of millions, said that when he was a young boy and saw or heard about disasters his mother would tell him to look for the helpers. There are always those who want to help, she told him. This week, be a helper. For in that act of reaching out to others, we find ourselves touching the face of God.

REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email is