There is a new phrase popping up in my circle of awareness. The concept is not new, but it has now been tagged with a nomenclature I had not heard before. And it is pretty cool.
In this frigid ice storm hitting all over the country, people are being slammed pretty hard. It is the first time on record that every county in Texas was under a winter storm watch – every county. Here join my commonwealth, people are still digging out from the last one as the new one is hitting as I type this. And in all this, Warming Centers are opening up all around. The American Legion, the volunteer fire department offices, churches and more. I just sent out our email update to those in the area telling them the church was open for just this purpose. I realize we are not on the best kept road, as in it doesn’t get treated too quickly. But we are here. We have heat. They can charge mobile devices. Watch TV. Running water. And if they need it, carpeted floors to lay out on (sorry no beds, bring your own bedroll.)
I get shelters. I understand Red Cross, Hope Houses, Caritas. But the word itself was new to me.
So with all this, I did a little research at that great Google library in the clouds. The concept is simple – a place to get warm so no one freezes to death. The history goes back to at least 1945 in Berlin after the war. Blankets and simple provisions were provided to help those in dire conditions. They are not so much shelters of a permanent nature, but an oasis of protection in a temporary condition (like these ice storms).
But they have not been without controversy. To be fair, everything and everyone these days pretty much has controversy, except maybe Tom Hanks – everyone loves Tom Hanks. Some of the issues are not providing enough, providing too much, not really helping by addressing the issues (especially in regards to homeless et al). Others object to churches being a Warming Center because they are more concerned with keeping the status quo and not really helping – or they are more concerned with just making themselves feel good.
People need to get a life. If I am cold, without power, having no where to turn – any port in the storm that offers a Warming Center would be welcomed. If our church can provide assistance than how is that bad?
We are to be lights to this world.
In John 5, Jesus calls his cousin … a lamp that burned and gave light. The principle is John the Baptist burned (gave warmth) and gave light – John was a one person Warming Center.
Can’s we do the same today – be the lamp – that burns and gives light.