Until becoming one of your pastors, I really hadn’t had any deep thoughts about ambulances. Having now spent seven years meeting folks at the emergency room, watching ambulances arrive in worship, and knowing the special care so many of you have received from our emergency crews, I pay closer attention when I hear sirens. Even when I am not here in Cumberland County, it is not unusual for me to send up a prayer of hope for the stranger in the ambulance.

Recently during the Sacred Encounters worship service, emergency beepers began sounding and four of our worshippers quickly, but sedately exited the pavilion. They piled into Fire Chief Howard Robb’s SUV, turning on the siren just as they left the parking lot. As the congregation continued to sing, other sirens echoed through the Glade.

I have not ever thought about the men and women who drop everything at the sound of a fire call, persons who give of themselves for strangers to protect life and property. I was overcome by my own lack of connection to the many fire engines and rescue squads that have passed by me in my life. We have persons in the Glade, friends and neighbors, who spend their own time and money going for training, who spend hours in practice and in-service exercises, and who willingly don boots, helmets, and coats so that our community might be safe. These men left behind four wives who must have, like me, silently sent up prayers as they tried to continue to worship.

It turned out that within about 10 minutes, the familiar red SUV reentered the parking lot and the volunteers returned to worship. The call was only a candle placed too close to a smoke detector. In those 10 minutes I realized how important some of our silent servants are and how easily I have taken them for granted. I know that even though this call hadn’t been a true emergency, the next time the beepers sound, these men and others will respond as if their lives and others depended upon them. And I believe the next time I see a fire truck, I will think of my friends who serve here in Fairfield Glade, I will be thankful for them and for whoever is on that truck going to offer care to someone in need, and I will send my prayers chasing the siren.