Friday, Aug. 30, 2019
I want to begin this reflection by sharing one of my favorite Psalms. Psalms 46
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear thought the earth change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.”
Friends, hurricanes come to Florida and the Bahamas, it’s not a matter of “IF” but “WHEN.” This is one of those times. We’re not even sure, as of today, when or where in Florida or the Bahamas it will fall. We only know that it will bring lots of water and it’s staying around for a while…moving “Des-pa-cito”–very slowly. Not good for those in flooding areas.
But what if we look at the positive side–YES! There is a positive side to hurricanes! The temperature of the ocean lowers with a cooling effect. Cooler water helps mitigate coral bleaching, which is great for our underwater flora and fauna. Not to mention, that we need cooler waters to alleviate the warming effects of our warming planet. Hurricanes renew our forest and clean our rivers.
Dear siblings, our planet is alive, and it is reminding us that we need to work together. We need to keep being educated about the care of our world. We are co-creators with God, and that is a big responsibility! However, we are not superior to the power of nature.
Another positive impact on us is that people unite during these times, praying for and genuinely helping one another.
Having said that, I want to share something we can and will do. Our synod office will be closed on Tuesday, as this is the day it might get closer to our area. Your synod staff will be caring for their households, but also staying in touch with one another as we are able to work from home.
Our conference Deans are our point of contact. Please make sure your dean knows about your status, of those in your congregation and community, and of your church buildings. I will have a conference call on Wednesday with the Deans to assess damages.
Our synod has a disaster response team. Pastor Rusty May is our chaplain for disasters, and Michele Hilton, my Assistant for Administration, is the coordinator from my office. Our team is ready to respond. For those of you that would like to contribute in some way, remember that financial giving for these and other disasters can be done through our web page www.fbsynod.com.
The reports we receive from our sister synod in the Caribbean is that there has been minimal damages to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico after Dorian has passed through.
Sometimes in these events–knowing that a hurricane is heading our way–our minds trigger past memories that have been scary or even painful. Therefore, we must find safe haven in our faith. We trust that we belong to God, and that in good times and in difficult times, God is present. Christ suffers with us as nature takes its course. No matter what the future holds, we know WHO is there already: our beautiful savior, Jesus Christ who loves us even through the rough moments of life.
I want to share with you a poem from Annie Johnson Flint:
God hath not promised
Skies ever blue
All our lives through;
God hath not promised
Skies without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.
But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Sisters and brothers, as we gather this weekend–in our congregations or in our homes–let us pray together…
“Most gracious and caring God, we are again in the possible path of a powerful storm. We commend to you those who will suffer loss. Sustain them with your love during this difficult time. Unite us as we work with each other hand in hand. Give us strength and courage to face the consequences. Bless and protect those in search and rescue teams. May your Spirit move among us with her grace and power, so we may recover wisely, making the best decision at the right time. Above all, give us your peace, so we can rest in you. Trusting in your mercies, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen”
The Rev. Pedro M. Suarez, Bishop
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA