On March 18, 1937 in New London, Texas a spark ignited a cloud of natural gas that had accumulated in the enclosed crawlspace of The Consolidated School building. The blast killed 293 people, most of them children.

The explosion happened because the local school board wanted to cut heating costs. Natural gas, the by-product of petroleum extraction, was siphoned from the nearby Parade Gasoline Company’s residue gas line to fuel the school’s gas heaters free of charge.

Natural gas is both odorless and colorless, so the leak was difficult to detect and went unnoticed. When the explosion happened, the roof blew off the building and then crashed back down on it.

This was one of the worst disasters involving children in American history. It was a total tragedy and brought incredible heartache to this small east Texas town. To this day it is a subject most residents are unwilling to discuss.

But out of this disastrous event came something very positive. The Texas legislature mandated that an odorant be added to natural gas. And that requirement for companies quickly spread worldwide.

Now the putrid smell of rotten eggs is familiar to everyone reminding us that there is natural gas. The strong odor makes leaks quickly detectable. Out of such a great tragedy many other lives have been saved from an undetected gas leak since natural gas is no longer odorless.

We are living in a time of great challenge and heartache. Thousands of lives have been lost in this Pandemic though thankfully not many are children. This experience can be valuable if it warns us of what needs to change.

What can we learn from this challenging experience? What is it that God may be saying to the Church? What might he be saying to our culture? What is he saying to you? This season is like a giant explosion, blowing up our typical way of living.

We are living in a different reality. Our normal schedule is temporarily gone. Many don’t go to work, kids don’t go to school, we’re not allowed to go to church on Sunday. Visits with friends and extended family can’t happen. Nights out at restaurants and theaters aren’t allowed.

What needs to change? Is there something we need to add to our lives? Is there something missing? We need to act now so that we can make something good from all this pain and suffering.

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