Surely some things are actually coincidence, but so often chance happenings carry the fingerprints of what may be more accurately referred to as a "God incident."
The plan for the Youth group meeting yesterday afternoon was to have a "Destination Unknown" trip working on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Destination Unknown trips are an idea we got from a book of the same name. You announce that you are going to an unknown place for the meeting, gather, climb into the van and go to one or more places for activities connected to the lesson for the day. We have visited a funeral home, Wal-Mart, downtown St. Marys and other destinations over time, all with a message tied to some activities at the unknown destination.
For the Good Samaritan, we planned to go to houses of some teens in the van and ask, "Who lives here?" Then point to the surrounding houses, asking who lives in those as well. Move on to another house, and so on for three or four houses. Then start going to houses of people who attend King of Peace, but whose house might not be known to anyone in the van. Once I said whose house it was, we still would not know who lived in the houses nearby. Then we would stop for snacks and read and discuss the parable, before moving to phase two (mentioned below).
That was the plan and we stuck to it. But along the way, we changed the route in order to meet up with two teens arriving late. We were on a road we hadn't planned to drive down when we saw a truck with a badly flat tire and the female driver on the phone. I asked if the youth wanted to stop and help and they said they did. The woman affirmed that she very much wanted assistance. She went on to explain that her husband, who she was talking with by cell phone, was on duty at the Naval base and could not come to help her and her kids for quite some time. We got out and started to go over to change the tire and referring to the lettering on the church van she told her husband over the phone "The Episcopal Churches of Camden County are going to change the tire." We changed the flat and got her and the kids on the road to Wal-Mart to have the tire plugged. We continued on our rounds having been given the chance to serve as "Good Samaritans" while learning about the parable.
By the way, part II had us travel to the ruins of a house that burned to the ground a couple of years ago. I told the group that while the houses we visited looked great on the outside, the emotional and spiritual lives of some of the people who lived in those houses was more akin to the burned out ruins. Many of our neighbors are hurting and in need.
In the parable of the "Good Samaritan" we learn that while we start with ourselves and ask, "Who is my neighbor?" God starts with the person in need and asks, "Who do I have in the area that can help?
" Often we can be the answer to God's question if we are open to the persons who are hurting and in need that God puts along our path. It would have been easy to assume that the woman was on the cell phone and so help was on the way, which was my first thought. But on consideration, it made more sense to stop and confirm that. In fact, she did need help and we were the ones God had in the area (for our sakes more than hers).
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church