Yesterday church was on a funny schedule: an hour earlier than usual and a half-hour service instad of the regular three hour block. Why? They were encouraging everyone to get out and help people with homes damaged from the hurricane and resulting floods. Logistically, it was crazy; a friend of our compared it to organizing troops for war....there were some four hundred folk (many in yellow, the Mormon service icon color) milling around at one building while assignments were dished out.
I was proud that so many people cared and it restored some of my faith in the community. It's nice to see that leaders and members are willing to choose helping people in need over maintaining regular services. Basically, instead of talking about charity, we acted charitably. And I think it's reasonable to be proud of that choice.
But on the other hand, some people might need church, so one could argue against essentially canceling church for community service. Additionally, physical service could be done every Sunday instead of religious activity. Why did we choose this date? Why this particular need? I think this instance makes sense because we were responding to the repercussions of a natural disaster. People were distraught over how to deal with their homes, many of which were full of water-logged possessions. It was a time-sensitive and required a large host of people to handle it. If it had been any of our homes, we would have wanted the same help we gave.
N suggested we do similar service once every three months, but I can't help but ask a million questions in response. Are there needs to be met in the area that could be addressed by this particular form? If so, what are they? Could our community support that frequency? Why replace church? Why not? Why three months, or whatever time period? I could think of several advantages of such a system, not the least of which is a community which has been trained for organized emergency response. However, my hunch is that there would be resistance to this being a regular occurrence. How else could you get equally strong participation, or will enthusiasm inherently dwindle?