This morning was amazing. Frankly, because of the Big It, what we also call the 2009 Flood, we figured that if anyone showed up at worship this morning there might be, oh, maybe a couple of hundred. Wow. Nearly a thousand at this last minute, barely planned service. The room was packed. It was obvious that the weary and heroic flood fighters were desperately ready to pull aside and praise the Master, hug one another in a dry and warm room, and receive a challenge, however, simple, from the Love Letter.
And the testimonies. One after another. This woman sharing about her incredibly God-fearing husband and his courage in the face of nature’s onslaught. The gentleman who was watching four houses at a time, making sure the dikes were strong. The story of the old widow who, realizing that no sandbags could be enough for her place, told the crew to pull them all up and take them to another house. What sacrifice on her part!
Amazing. And then there was the little girl, probably three, who came up to the microphone and simply said: “I love my Daddy. I love my Daddy. I love my Daddy.”
The God-stories were amazing. I am so incredibly proud to be a part of Bethel Church, and, of course, this entire community. I don’t think I have ever seen a community so utterly resilient. A dear friend of mine made the comment to me that community is often manufactured at too many churches today (see my dear friend Laura Shaw’s blog). Not here. There is nothing canned. It is real, it is alive, and it is resilient.
Not perfect. We might even let one another down. But, well, we are journeying together toward Glory.
For those who have been asking, and they are many, the latest on our own place is that the basement was flooded to some degree, but, thankfully, the dike is holding strong. Two nights ago we were expecting total disaster. The whole city was. Were the river to have crested at the 42 to 43 feet, there is no way most of our home would have made it. However, God has seen fit to hear our collective pleas for mercy. At the moment we’re far better than we expected.
Of course many are not. Thus it was that this morning we reminded ourselves that it was Jesus, who knowing of the pending storm and all the fright it would engender, still said to His disciples, “Let us go to the other side” of the lake (Mark 4:35). He knew what they would lose sight of in the midst of the travail as they trekked the glassy billows of Galilee’s Sea. Despite the rising waters, their God would get them through. Indeed, the wind blew and the waves rose and the disciples feared and fussed.
But they got to the other side.
Just as the Master said.
And so shall we.