(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
As New York and other states in the Northeast recover from Sandy, which has been recorded as the largest tropical system in the Atlantic Ocean, Pastor Tim Keller reminds Christians to follow the second greatest commandment in the Bible: love your neighbor.
"We have an opportunity to tangibly live out our current sermon series on generosity – to give of ourselves relationally, hospitably, and financially in life-transforming ways," said Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.
"Check in with your neighbors, friends and church members to see if they are in need."
Redeemer has three campuses in New York. It recently launched worship services in downtown Manhattan, which was hit hard by Sandy Monday night.
The death toll in the U.S. has risen to more than 90 – 41 in New York City alone – after more bodies were discovered.
Keller's statement comes at a time when patience is running thin with gas shortages, traffic jams, and days without power. Power is just beginning to come back to homes and businesses, though many may be without it for weeks, and the New York skyline is expected to be mostly lit for the first time on Friday since Sandy made landfall.
Relief groups, including church-based organizations, have already begun serving residents in storm-stricken regions, providing food and shelter as millions still remain without power.
Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are assisting in clean-up efforts, meal distribution, and shelter accommodation as well as offering pastoral care, according to the ELCA News Service.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Samaritan's Purse and Operation Blessing International have also dispatched teams to meet the needs of storm victims.
Redeemer Presbyterian Church is providing similar support in relief efforts targeting the affected, including those who attend the church.
"As a Downtown congregation, this is a particularly significant time for us to focus our prayers and service toward members of our community and many of our neighbors who were directly impacted by the storm," said John C. Lin, lead pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church Downtown. "Please connect with members of your community group, check in on neighbors who need assistance, particularly those who are elderly and infirm, and pray for those Downtown who are displaced and most vulnerable."
Both Lin and Keller cited Psalm 46: "God is our refuge and strength and an ever-present help in time of trouble."
"May we find refuge in God, and be a refuge for all those in need during this challenging time," said Lin.
Redeemer's downtown worship services have been canceled for this Sunday, due to uncertainties related to power, travel and safety in downtown and the outer boroughs.