Fire alarm. Wrenched out of sleep. Look at phone, it’s 6:30am. Three second pause, better get up.

Probably a false alarm. Chuck some clothes on and take the stairs two at a time, passing others as they leave their bedrooms in dressing gowns.

Already people are gathering in the hallway downstairs around the alarm panel. I open the garden door’s shutters and unlatch it, stepping outside, it’s still dark.

There’s a feint orange glow and the air is thick. Smoke? Can’t smell it. Walk around to the side of the house that the glow is eminating from. It’s ok; the glow is a floodlight and it’s hazy ‘smoke’ is just mist. The whole outside of the house looks ok, I’ll go and check a few rooms.

I walk back round and step into the hallway. There are more people coming down the stairs, they’re a walking paradox- both alarmed and dozy, with one half of their brain shocked awake and the other half still complaining and nearly asleep.

A mum is enlisting help to carry her kids to the marshalling point outside, guys are running around upstairs to check the room in which the alarming alarm went off.

Turns out it was a false alarm. Oh well.

Ours is a big home, currently with 22 residents and a fire alarm system of equal size and volume. It would be exaggerating to say it felt like the blitz, but it’s the same concept – danger galvanises people into a community. Torn out of our routines we spontaneously dropped into certain roles, organised ourselves into action, collaborated to help one another find and escape the danger, protected one another.

I wonder what’s going to shock our church into the same unity of purpose?


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