It all started a week ago today—what they are now calling a 500-year event. Since last Sunday our city has been through the fire—excuse me, make that water. Now those streets that were covered with water have mountains of trash piled as high as my head all along their sides. Friends, family members, and strangers alike have worked side by side to empty out the flooded houses—everything from sodden furniture to cherished possessions to all the gutted siding and insulation.
What kind of a sermon does one preach at the end of a week like this? I was confident our pastor would have a real word from the Lord, and he did.
He talked about the three lessons we have learned this week. The first was the most glaringly obvious. Material possessions are fragile and fleeting. Luke 12:15: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
Boy, is that the truth! I’ve done a lot of thinking about the things I would have lost if it had happened to our house. This house is full of family history and treasures, including the huge Bible of my second great-grandparents, printed in 1886. But that afternoon as it continued to pour and we had to think about evacuating, I could not figure out what I would should take with me if I had to flee. I simply didn’t know where to start. (I suppose I should live with such a list handy, and I’m thinking about doing that.)
A second thing we learned is that, despite how fragile material things are, love is strong (Mark 12:30-31). Love has reached out this week on all sides. Of course we’ve seen strong family ties filling unbelievable gaps and holding loved ones close, but we’ve also seen love expressed by strangers through everything from a hug on the street to hours of back-breaking labor sorting through muck and hauling the fragments of lives out to the street.
The third thing we’ve learned is that we already have the three things we need most. According to I Corinthians 13:13, faith, hope, and love are what stand the test of time—and we already have them. All three pointswere good reminders.
Our choir added to the blessings of the service with an appropriate number titled “Be Still and Know.” Yes, that’s what we all need in the midst of this storm (no pun intended), especially those who I imagine waking up every morning thinking it must have been a nightmare—and finding out all over again that it wasn’t.