I got a call recently from an inner city minister with whom we work. Our church hosts a dinner and a VBS for the families with which he works. We have funded many activities and our volunteers have formed relationships with the kids. It really is one of the ministries of which I am most proud. One of the parents died recently, leaving his wife and multiple kids behind. As is usually the case there is no money in a working poor family for funerals. Our church was able to provide the balance owed on the funeral, food for a gathering afterward, and a sum of money for the widow to provide basic necessities for her family the coming month. It is more a blessing to us to be able to do such a thing. Jesus is really clear that ministry is about such things.
In the course of our conversation he asked if I knew anyone who had a car they wanted to get rid of. My first reaction was probably shock. No, I don't have a bunch of people asking me to take cars off their hands. I have in the past had people donate cars, three or four times, but it was because I made a public plea. [And sometimes I fear my parish gets sick of being asked over and over] Anyhow, I told him, I hope in a nice way, that I didn't. Which, of course, ended up being untrue. Because this Sunday a couple on their way out the door said that they had a car to donate if anyone needed it. And I said, "o my gosh yes!" At some point today, I think, that widow will be blessed with a car.
In my theological understanding of God [which means my inadequate attempt to talk about eternity] He loves and cares for people. He does not control everything (the Prince of this world is Satan). He has given "freedom" (always limited by external factors) to creation. There are laws which cannot be broken (like gravity or logic) and laws which can (moral laws and expectations). God asks people to do right, but does not make them do what He wants (hence sin). Somehow the appearance of sin in the world has impacted human capacity for choice (we are "fallen" and unable to rise above ourselves). God, however, if He does not control everything has also not abandoned it all. He is not a clock maker who creates and then wanders off to let creation sink or swim on its own. He has chosen, out of love, to give creation a free hand, but He regularly intervenes. Theologically, I believe God is an interventionist. I think God is active but not in control of everything. in my mind, the people in this church have responded to Jesus (and Bible and Holy Tradition); as that response goes deeper His activity among us increases. People who long for Him and are open to Him become more frequent recipients of His activity (hence, Jesus, the perfect man, was in full connectivity; The Light shines more brightly in the ones who love and obey Him). A godly poor family, a godly inner city worker and a godly parishioner were all open to God. He heard the cry of the poor and someone responded to His prompting to provide for them. In all of it the Divine fingerprints are barely seen. My job was to connect the three parties for the benefit of all and to God be the Glory!
Because God intervenes, rather than controls, intercessory prayers make sense (both as motivation for and means to God's actions). Equally important, the faithful being faithful, which is the primary way God intervenes. And when the subtle push comes from God be open. Needs are everywhere and the means to provide for the needy are as well. The church is most faithful in its journey of faith when it listens for God and is open to His interventions.