I had to say I have been proud of the church in the last three weeks. I have seen many, many churches step outside of themselves, step into the mess and really make a difference. One great example is a friend of mine from a church in Iowa who went with a few people help out in whatever way they could.

From what I can gather, many of the people who have had their lives flipped upside down have said that if it weren’t for churches, things would be so much worse. As a church, we’re trying to do our small part as a community. It really is great to see the church universal truly being a blessing to the world.

But, (warning: beginning of little rant) last night we were in some conversation about this whole thing and I really started to think. Where was the church before Katrina? What were we doing before this tragedy?

A friend of mine is a social worker down in Philadelphia. When they started getting call after call from churches wanting to help out many of her co-workers asked, “Where were all these churches before Katrina?”

While, as the body Christ we definitely need to be making a difference in this huge humanitarian effort, I wonder…

Has it become “cool” to help the victims of Katrina?

Let’s be honest, it feels really good to help out such a huge tragedy. We feel part of something big. We get a sense of adventure and excitement. I think if we are honest, for many of us it is more about us feeling adventure than it is about being a blessing and caring for those people.

So, where was the church before Katrina? What? Is serving in our own cities where people live in poverty everyday not “adventuresome enough?” Is it not big enough to make us feel special and needed?

So, yes, I think in one way it has become cool to help out with Katrina.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad the church has responded the way it has. A lot has been done and there is a TON more work to be done. It shows that the church really does care about people.

But, perhaps we could work this hard for the people in our own cities. You know, the people who live ten minutes away, around the corner, and in our neighborhoods as we do about the people who live thousands of miles away.

I realize it might not be as “adventurous.” But, I don’t think that was what Jesus was looking for when we reached down to heal a cripple, give sight to a blind man and touch a leper.

I heard of a pastor who has a church ten minutes from the New Orleans airport. As a community, and using their building, they are in an important role in the relief efforts. But, he said that before the hurricane hit, his church didn’t do much social justice. In fact, he never even realized the amount of poverty living only 10 minutes away from him! I wonder how many of us are in the same boat!? (I seriously am including myself in this).

I know there are churches in America that really have a concern for and action towards issues of social justice. God bless them. But, I think hurricane Katrina has shown both what we CAN do and what we don’t typically do and where we need to stop up in our own communities. It seems that most of us are missing it in some way or another.

Now, to be honest. Taking part in social justice is not easy. There are a LOT of things to work out and work through for a community to really make a difference…but, perhaps we need to work just a little harder at it. Starting with us.