St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Friday, March 10, 2023
News, Notes, and an Update Lent 3 John 4: 5-42
St Albans met a couple of specific, limited, but big needs this week
Sometimes we think, being small amidst a sea of big churches, that what we do doesn’t make much difference. But “small” has its advantages, too.
When a desperate call came to us on last Friday evening, we were able to step in right away. Without giving details that could compromise her privacy, a woman contacted us for help. Having left an abusive marriage with her school age daughter, she had rented an apartment, but after paying first and last month’s rent and setting up utilities, and filling her car with gas so she could get to work, she had no money for food for the next couple of weeks until her next paycheck. No other church was able to assist. COM gave her a few things, but she really needed enough to carry them through. So we got in gear right away. One of us met her at the store, filled up her cart, heard her story, and has been in contact with her every day this week. The need was met – both for food and for a first friendship as she settles into our town.
We could do this because we have the flexibility of smallness. A couple of calls and it was done.
Last night, we got a call from a social worker at CMH. There was an individual who had been discharged from the hospital, but too late to make his bus back to Oklahoma. He uses a wheelchair and had no resources to spend two extra days in Bolivar. (The next bus to OK is Saturday morning.) They called us after exhausting other possibilities, because “someone” had told her we would help. So I spent a good part of the evening finding a motel with an accessible first floor room, recruiting Becca to go pay for it, negotiating a ride (since even the cabs in Bolivar stop at 5 pm and there is no other available public transportation) and making sure he had microwaveable food for today.
We could do this because we are small. All I did was to contact Paula and Becca, talk a few times to the social worker, and it was done.
We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in this way.
BUT, we have barely enough money to maintain our beautiful but expensive-to-maintain building. Most of our expenses are fixed, as you saw in the annual meeting. We spend very little on personnel, but a whole lot on utilities, insurance and our portion to the Diocese.
So I am asking. For extra money. If you are able to help us establish an emergency fund – a sort of congregational discretionary fund – to cover expenses like these, without cutting your offering to keep us afloat, please designate it on your check. Paula Shepard would like to see this accomplished as soon as possible, as would I.
These are real human needs that can be taken care of quickly and easily if there is available money to do it. They are not the more complex, long-term needs that require a different and coordinated response from the whole community. We do have COM, the Warming Center, and several churches that assist the hungry with weekly meals.
What we do not have is a “quick response” team; the social worker was in tears before we finally got it sorted out – and she still had several other crises to deal with as well. No other church or agency is set up to simply go do what is needed to “fix” an immediate need. This we CAN do because we are small. Let’s use that advantage to the benefit of our neighbors.
A photograph of the real Jacob’s well as it is today…
Jacob’s Well and the Samaritan Woman The Gospel for Sunday
You remember the story. Jesus is traveling through Samaria when he stops near the village of Sychar to rest. Sitting by the well of Jacob, he meets a woman from the town and they engage in a spirited conversation about theology – and thirst.
Eventually Jesus sends her to get her husband, and she says she isn’t married. She’s right. In fact, she has had five husbands, Jesus reminds her. It is easy to see her as a “prostitute” or a wanton woman who has dumped five men before taking the one she has now – to whom she is not married? But what if that’s not the story at all?
Think a minute about first century Judaism. Who was allowed to seek a divorce, and who was not? And what grounds did someone have to have to get rid of an unwanted spouse? What is her real situation? And how does Jesus respond to it?
How does she react to hearing that he knows it all, isn’t upset, and understands her?
And what happens when she runs back into the city and tells everyone about Jesus?