Reflection - October 9, 2017

By Darren McClellan

published 10/9/2017
Listen to me in silence, O coastlands; let the peoples renew their strength; let them approach, then let them speak; let us together draw near... The coastlands have seen and are afraid, the ends of the earth tremble; they have drawn near and come.  Each one helps the other, saying to one another, “Take courage!” 
                                                                    --Isaiah 41:1,5-6​
Dear Friends,
I pray this morning finds you well and unharmed ​from the recent experience of hurricane Nate.  Many thanks go to our disaster response coordinators for their vigilance in this recent episode and for the clergy and laity who took necessary precautions to ensure everyone's safety.  I will be compiling an assessment for the district today, and ask that you would contact the district office with any reports of storm damage or other related needs.  It may be easiest to simply respond to this email with any news.   
Yesterday, my three sons realized that they prefer spending their Sunday mornings going to church over raking pine straw and reconfiguring patio furniture.  This is not a bad discovery at all.  Other lessons include the usual "radar fatigue" that tends to wear on me in the hours and days before a storm makes landfall.  Sorting through the various predictions can be anxious business, and there are only so many interviews of reporters confirming the coming wind and rain that I can stand.  
While also grieving the loss of a beloved Gainesville native this week, I confess that his lyrics often stay with me:
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
(“The Waiting” by Tom Petty, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1981)
Let me know if your church's praise band plans on using that one for Advent this year.
Until then, let us continually give thanks to the God who sustains us in every season and who calls us (as they also say in Gainesville) to "all stick together in all kinds of weather." This summons to faith is grounded in the God who is with us always and who carries us in our troubles; whether real or imaginary.
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend... do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. 
​                                                                    --Isaiah 41:8,10
This is good news for all kinds of storms that may be anticipated from any number of directions.  It is important, I believe, that followers of Jesus be ready to remind each other that fear does not have the last word, no matter what the radar may say.  For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength (1 Corinthians 1:25). 
Or, if you enjoy the New Revised Petty Version,
Oh, don't let it kill you baby, don't let it get to you
Don't let 'em kill you baby, don't let 'em get to you
I'll be your breathin' heart, I'll be your cryin' fool
Don't let this go too far, don't let it get to you.
(T. Petty, 1981)

Grace to You,