I found this meme on Facebook and thought it fit today’s lessons.
“We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm. Some have yachts, some have canoes and some are drowning. Just be kind and help whoever you can.”
I think, though, that there is more than one single storm that we all find ourselves in but we all share in the same storms but have different boats for each storm. Sometimes we get hyperfocused on the big storms in the world, climate change, racial injustice, global terrorism and political divisions to name a few, but for the most part, there isn’t a lot I can do about these. A lot of times, we focus on these, like watching hurricane coverage on the Weather Channel, but miss the real storms around us. The storms affecting us, our friends and neighbors. The storms of isolation, emotional distress, financial hardship or problems in relationships. The storms we can really help others weather.
Jesus saw the storms people had to weather and worked to help them weather them. While he healed many and proclaimed the word, he,too had his teachable moments. The Gentile women pled for her daughter and had to remind Jesus and us that everyone in the storms of life are children of God. We too need to remember that everyone is a child of God and help them as we can whatever storms they may be encountering.
James addresses the same issues. He reminds us not to differentiate between rich and poor in our dealings. Reminding us of the Beatitudes, he points out that “God has chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and … heirs of the Kingdom of God.” Showing favoritism and forgetting the poor is a violation of the great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, what do we do? How do we navigate the storms of life and help those we find that are struggling? It depends on your boat. The bigger your boat the more you can do. Begin with small every day things. That family with the fancy car at the food bank may have lost everything and the car might be their home. With rising rents and home prices, more people are being evicted and finding themselves in untenable positions. Inflation is hurting more people as they begin to make decisions on what to pay, rent, food or medicine. When you find an opportunity to help, step up. It’s not up to you to decide how big their boat might be. It’s not up to you to decide their immigration status. Finally, you can help with those bigger issues. You can donate to help the needs of those effected by disasters by giving to the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund or the Red Cross, you can help with poverty issues by giving to Food for the Poor and you can become active in local issues through Nevadans for the Common Good. It’s up to you to step up.
As a faith community we come together to build a bigger boat. As such we can pool our resources and energies to help others. We contribute with money and supplies for the Teen Center. We have helped needy families at Gibson Middle School. Now, on the second Tuesday of every month, we team up with the Just One Project to hand out food from our parking lot to those in need. We also have offered up our facilities for COVID testing and vaccinations. There is always more to do in the world which is why we are always trying to build a bigger boat.
Finally, look around the room. Many here have needs that we can address. Many are quietly struggling. Hold them up. Throw them a lifeline. Support them in any way you can.
I’m going to close with James because he says it better than I can:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
The Reverend Karl E. Gustafson III was born in the Denver Area and spent his teenage years in Kentucky.
When he graduated High School, he entered into Military service, joining the army. During his service, he lived in South Korea, Germany, and various states in the Union. After 12 years in the service, and three kids to raise, he left the Army and went to the University of Wyoming ( Go Cowboys!) to get a degree in Education.
In the fall of ’91, newly graduated with a Bachelor’s in Education, Karl got his first job in his new career as an educator here in Las Vegas. He joined All Saints and after volunteering in various positions, was called to be ordained as a deacon. He has served as a deacon at All Saints since his ordination.
Recently retired, he has begun to help in the office as the office manager.