A few weeks ago a strange thing happened. A woman who lives in our neighborhood was walking her two dogs around in our parking lot. We see her here pretty regularly. On this day she was out at the pumpkin patch. There were some middle school-aged kids out there and one of them ran towards the dogs to play with them. This spooked one of the dogs who broke away from the lady and ran off with its leash dragging behind.
These dogs were clearly very important to this woman and she was frantic that one had run off. Since she drove them to our parking lot for their walk, she was afraid this dog would not be able to find its way home.
In addition, when the dog bolted, it pulled away from her so quickly that she fell and hit her head on one of the pumpkin pallets. She wasn’t hurt badly, but this just added to her anxiety.
What happened next was really something. A small army of church folks and neighbors began a search. We learned that a work crew had seen the dog headed for the railroad tracks so we fanned out and began the search.
We didn’t find the dog that day, but fortunately the search continued and our neighbor was reunited with her pet a couple of days later. As we feared, he had gotten that leash tangled up in some brush and could very well have choked to death had he not been found.
Our neighbor made a point to call the church to tell us how grateful she was for all the help we had given a “stranger”.
What struck me in all this was how many people joined in to help her. The fact is in that moment she was NOT a “stranger” to us--she was our neighbor and our friend and she needed help. That really is what the church is at its best. In our holy scriptures we are mandated over and over to care for the widow and the orphan and the poor and the “alien”, the foreigner, the stranger.
When we talk about “God Sightings”, this is what we are talking about. A commonplace event that, seen through the eyes of faith, becomes a portal where God enters our world. These portals happen everyday around us.
The police often issue what they call a “bolo”--”Be On The Lookout”. I suggest we believers do the same. God is near.