Watching the evening news the other night, there was a story about Hurricane Florence. Astronauts at the space station had to use a wide angle lens to take a picture of it. From space, Hurricane Florence looks quite big. Weather reports indicate it has the potential and possibility for much devastation and destruction. While there is concern for those in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, there is also concern for Pennsylvania: how much, if any, rain will this area get? Will it be like a couple of weeks ago, or will we be untouched by the rain? It remains to be seen.
Looking at the picture of Hurricane Florence from space reminded me, also of Psalm 19:1: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims its makers handiwork." This declaration can be seen on sunny days or starry nights, but in the view of a hurricane from space?
Yes. Look closer at the picture of Hurricane Florence from space. From above, the clouds circling around the eye of the hurricane over blue is a picture of troubled beauty. Pictures taken inside the hurricane reveal a swirling pattern of gray and white, of wind and rain.
In the midst of a storm, it can be hard to see beauty. Instead, it can be easier to see angry waves, angry sky, and whipping wind; buildings giving in to these sheer forces. Yet beauty does exist, even in the midst of a storm.
Back in the spring, I had the opportunity to coach for Girls on the Run. The ten week season encourages girls in grades third through eighth to develop healthy self esteem through physical fitness. At the end of the season, the girls run a 5k. That spring day in May was miserable -- it poured buckets, and was very very soggy. With smiles on their faces, the girls ran it. Later, one shared with me that she got through it because her mother allowed her to jump in every single puddle they came to.
Misery turned into beauty -- and an opportunity.
Tonight, take a look at the sky. It may be hard to see the stars, but try to find them. When you do, know that in all circumstances, the heavens declare the glory of God. A lesson we can learn from the heavens to declare God's glory -- even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Several months ago, as we began planning this year's Vacation Bible School, we chose a theme called "Water of Life". This theme explored the usefulness of water in the Bible. More importantly, it explored Jesus as the life giving water through Creation, his baptism, the man healed in the pool of water, the woman at the well, and the Twenty Third Psalm (where we are invited to rest beside still waters). Little did we realize in planning, that this week would also be a week filled with rain! But not any rain --heavy rain that has prevented us from being outside in the pavilion. Heavy rain that has had church members reporting combined totals over five days of ten inches or more. And, heavy enough rain that family and friends out of the area have called or texted asking if we are okay.
I know that some of our neighbors have not been so lucky. Even as the sun shines today, there is concern for the next day or two, especially those along the Susquehanna River. Currently, the local Lutheran Disaster Response has a need for help throughout the area, probably over the weekend. If you have an interest in helping a neighbor in need, please leave a comment for this blog and someone will be back in contact with you shortly.
At the end of Vacation Bible School the other night, children and adults gathered around our baptismal font. Each child and adult expressed something about water they are thankful for: cooking, cleaning, helping flowers and plants grow so as not to be watered, drinking, washing clothes, swimming, jumping in puddles, and so much more. The countless rain drops and the theme of water helped students see and appreciate the gift and necessity of water in our lives. And, the thankful prayers reminded me too of the overall VBS theme: 'When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.' (Isaiah 43:2)
Heavy rainfall turned into an opportunity to experience the abundance -- and the blessings of God!
In the same way, how have you experienced God's abundant blessings in your life? Take a moment to offer thanks to God for God's blessings. Take another moment to share these blessings with others.
Blessings and grace,
The Lord answered her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” -- Luke 10:41-42.
During the message on July 17th, there was reflection on both business and distraction throughout last week. Nightly church meetings to continue and further the work, witness, and ministry of the congregation. In this business and distraction, was also the recognition of needing to hear this passage from Luke (10:38-42). It’s a short passage, but a powerful passage.
I know I need to move forward, and begin to delve deeper into next week’s message, but Jesus’ words to Martha keep playing in my head.
For a brief moment, take Martha’s name out of the above passage, and add your name in Martha’s place. What do you hear? Hopefully, Jesus telling you also that you are worried and distracted over many things.
Distractions? Oh, a few. But last week’s distractions and business can probably be added to a long list of distractions from the past few months: Vaughn’s health, preparing the house to be sold, finding a house closer to the church, all of the tasks involved with keeping a house marketable while on the market, extended family concerns, concerns about the life of the congregation, . . . My list could go on.
To be distracted can mean to be pulled in multiple directions at one time, without any particular focus. If this is true, then these distractions over the past months have prevented me from being fully present to you, dear brothers and sisters, dear friends in Christ. For that, I am deeply and truly sorry.
Yes, we can argue that life has a way of keeping us busy and out of trouble. Yes, we can argue that family comes first. But in the grander scheme of things, what it comes down to is the absence of focus on the one needful thing that Mary found: the connection to Jesus and to one another. We cannot support one another if we do not spend time together. We cannot know more about the other if we do not share with one another.
And so, things will, and can change. They must – I must.
The story of Mary and Martha is a story of balance between rest and work. More importantly, it is a story of balance between people and projects.
As you continue this day, this week, take time for others. Let them know you love them and care for them. Let others know you are thinking about them. Take time, too, to focus on Jesus. Spend time with Jesus.
Blessings and grace,