January 16, 2022
John Hanstad, Diaconate co-chair
“I’m sure that my Dad is looking down from heaven and smiling.” I was walking through the hall of the church with one of the Red Cross volunteers. The multi-purpose/gym next to us was lined with sleeping cots and the church kitchen was filled with food brought in for those who found this as their temporary housing until the local floods receeded.
I went on to say that my Dad was a church builder; a literal builder of many churches up and down the Washington I-5 corridor, whose final project was building his own home church, Bethany Covenant, in Mount Vernon. Dad was also a church builder in that he invited people not only to attend church but also to be part of community. He was a true “inviter”. I recall when he invited a young family to our home for dinner but forgot to tell Mom. When the family arrived Dad also forgot that he had invited them for dinner and Mom made popcorn. Think Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Years later they all laughed about it and they came back for a “real” dinner.
Last November we had a chance to partner with the Red Cross to invite people into community by providing a safe, warm place to sleep, eat, and gather. Some of our guests were those who lived in tents in the woods next to the river and were displaced by the high water. Others had homes that were threatened by the flood waters. All gathered, talked, and ate and seemed to be making the most of being a part of this temporary community.
What a blessing when the church opens its doors to those in need. After all, isn’t that what community does, model its actions after the greatest Inviter of all.
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in…..”