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June 14, 2016

What is that line from Forrest Gump? “Life is like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re gonna get?”

Opening my email on Tuesday mornings after being off Monday is sometimes like that. Only it’s not always chocolates.

Today, hidden among dozens of emails about meetings and projects and prayer requests, there was a diamond.

The subject line was “Flooding,” and it went like this:

Dear Pastor Curry,

 I am the chair of Missions and Benevolence at a small Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania, Valley United Presbyterian Church. We are looking for a Presbyterian church in Texas that has been affected by the recent flooding. We received the name of your church from a list of flooded churches. Is your church in need of our help, or can you refer us to someone who might be in need following the recent flooding?


Janice Barrett

I came in to start my week with a heart aching from the shooting in Orlando, struggling with questions over how best to express the love of God amid such hatefulness. And there were many much smaller matters crowding my mind and vying for my attention, as well. The regular life stuff.

But, first, the email pileup. I took a deep breath, plunged in and began scrolling. My eyes were almost immediately drawn to the email above, and as I read it, I began to smile.

For the record, we have had no flooding at my church, and I let Ms. Barrett know that, and also forwarded her email to our presbytery, in case other congregations might benefit from her kind offer.

But I just cannot stop thinking about this church in Pennsylvania, looking far and wide for a way to help others. What a powerful witness to Jesus Christ. I was not surprised that reaching out is apparently nothing new for them. Their web page shows that they host Al Anon meetings and have a food pantry, and later this month they are hosting a free community meal and inviting everyone.

A flood of thoughts. Among them:

  • If anyone reading this lives in or near Athens, Pennsylvania, and is looking for a church home, I strongly suggest you visit the Valley United Presbyterian Church. They apparently are willing to follow Jesus all the way to Texas, if He tells them to go there. That says something very good about this church.
  • I am reminded once again that God does great things with small churches every day. Perhaps the greatest things. Heck, Jesus only needed 12 disciples, and they were pretty confused a lot of the time. Imagine what 12 Presbyterians can do!
  • We Presbyterians use a lot of language that involves our being something called a connectional church. This email demonstrates what being a connectional church is all about.
  •  Disaster in our world often appears big and overwhelming. Faithfulness means doing something – even something small – to stand with those who need someone to stand with or beside them. What small actions might each of us undertake to show love and respect to our gay friends and neighbors after the horrible event in Orlando? Having a heart open toward others  – this is what following Jesus is all about. Every small act of love makes a big difference. This is what a Presbyterian minister named Fred Rogers was talking about when he spoke of “looking for the helpers” and ultimately finding HOPE.
  • I don’t know you, Valley United, but clearly, you love the Lord. And if I could just wrap my arms around your entire church today and say “Thank you,” I would. You give me hope.






One Comment leave one →
  1. Sydney Barr permalink
    June 15, 2016 12:04 am

    Iam reminded about the Pres Church in Milford .. it is a beautiful old church and well rooted history .. Pres Schoolfor Women was there prior to being combined with the school in Sherman., they MAY be flooded as much rain fell in Italy and Milford..

    On Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 4:18 PM, Witness to Grace wrote:

    > Matt posted: “What is that line from Forrest Gump? “Life is like a box of > chocolates … you never know what you’re gonna get?” Opening my email on > Tuesday mornings after being off Monday is sometimes like that. Only it’s > not always chocolates. Today, hidden among do” >

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