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The Gospel and the Church
Texts: Galatians 6:1-10; Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 10:12; Romans 15:1; John 13:34; Luke 22:3

September 23, 2017

Garrett and Jessica Gee and their kids, otherwise known to their social media followers as the Bucket List Family, signed on to spend a full month inside the Disney World Resort in Orlando in mid August. Twenty-four days into their epic stay, Hurricane Irma barreled down on the Florida Park. “We are bunkering down and staying in Orlando. @Waltdisneyworld has been incredibly hospitable and caring to our family and all other guests,” the family posted on Friday, September 8. “So for now, our #30stays30days project is being put on hold so everyone involved can prioritize the well being of their families and homes.”

Disney World closed early Saturday night and remained closed on Sunday and Monday, marking the first time in its history the park has closed for two consecutive days. Even while the massive hurricane compelled millions to evacuate Florida, Disney encouraged their guests to stay put and ride out the storm with them. Tech entrepreneur Garrett assured followers that they and their children, Dorothy and Manilla, were safe. “We were cruising along and then boom, Irma’s coming,” Garret says. “It’s looking pretty stormy already,” he notes in a clip filmed Saturday night. “Disney has their own generators, water supply, food supply, so we’re really in good hands,” Jessica adds in the post.

The family weathered the storm at Disney’s high-end Beach Club resort without any problems. Their biggest obstacle was a bit of cabin fever: “48 hrs indoors hunkered away from #hurricaneirma. @manillagee has even began to grow facial hair,” they wrote in an Instagram post showing their son sporting a fake pirate beard. Other indoor activities included both kids fitting inside a single pillowcase, as encouraged by their dad. Disney World sheltered the Bucket List Family and hundreds of other guests through the storm, reopening to business as usual on September 12. [1]

God designed the church to shelter people from the storms of life. One facet of the gospel, as outlined in our lesson this week, is to offer incredibly hospitable care for people. The lesson begins with the statement “Understanding that we are saved by grace should make us humble and more patient and compassionate in how we treat others.” Sometimes people damaged by their own sinful behavior come to us. God calls the church to walk with them, encourage them, and restore them to full assurance of God’s love and saving grace.

As we bear each other’s burdens, we live the gospel message in ways that draw in others who need a safe haven. We can’t face life’s challenges alone. We need community. Those battered by life’s challenges must see the church as a sanctuary constructed of loving people. If the gospel is to make any practical difference in the world, it is that Christ offers the church as a shelter available to everyone in need.

~ cb

[1] http://people.com/home/family-spending-30-days-at-disney-world-weathered-hurricane-irma-from-inside-the-park/