Church after the flood

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Yesterday there was an article in the Los Angeles Times about church last Sunday at the First United Methodist Church in Dickinson, Texas. The week before Pastor Jack Matkin had canceled Sunday services due to the growing floodwaters. When the sun finally came out there was two feet of water inside the church building that was only six years old. All week long volunteers from Dickinson and all over Texas went to work pumping out the water and removing everything that was wet. By Saturday night the building was mostly dry with piles of pews, files and debris stacked outside, but a homemade sign was hung there, “WORSHIP SUNDAY AT 11.”

And worship they did, on blue folding chairs set upon the raw, but dry floor. And Pastor Matkin preached. He preached about the blind man Jesus healed and His disciples had asked Him why he was blind. Had he sinned or had his parents? Jesus replied that it wasn’t because of sin, but so that the power of God could be displayed in him. He told his congregation not to fall for “pop theology and TV evangelists that say that Hurricane Harvey is God’s judgment on sinful people or a sinful nation or a sinful city.” Focus instead on the opportunity to help each other.

“The storm named Harvey, on the outside, is over,” Matkin said. “For many of us, there may still be a storm within. And it doesn’t have to be that way. That storm within us, we can walk on top it, or we can sink in it.”

“And I will call upon Your name,” he read from the Psalms, “and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace.”

Then he called the children to the front. Raise your hand if you have water in your house, he said. A number of hands went up. Some of you probably lost toys. Then he cautioned everyone not to say they lost everything. Just say you lost a lot of stuff, because we still have love.

Each child was handed a bottle of water left from the volunteers who helped dry out the church. Pastor Matkin then encouraged them all to pour their bottle of water into the baptismal “so they could bless the water.”

In other words, there is good water and bad water. This water will save your soul. Which reminds me that Jesus once asked if it would profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul. Which made me wonder if it is would be worth it to lose all your stuff if it meant you gained your soul. I bet it is; and we must pray for that for the people of Texas who have lost so much. May they gain back in ways that can’t be measured.

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4 Responses to Church after the flood

  1. Gotta love us United Methodists! We did just have that same scripture here. And even a week prior, it popped up in our lesson in Sunday school in a series “When God Doesn’t Fix It” by Laura Story. You certainly can’t say that God didn’t have his hand in these scriptures and their timing. I am totally appalled that churches are using Harvey as a form of punishment. Wow. I wonder what will happen the next time a tornado hits their own town, or a dust storm, or an earthquake. God said it rains on the righteous and the unrighteous, thanks to original sin at the beginning of it all.

  2. Amanda says:

    This is also good timing for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, which is essentially going up in flames right now. I live in Seattle, where we are socked in by smoke from Eastern Washington, Montana and Oregon – many are losing things, many are living with the anxiety of losing things, and we can all use the reminder that in the midst of these crises is where Christ shines the most brilliantly, through the efforts of his people to enter in, walk alongside, and bring comfort, help and Christ’s love.

    • It feels like a time of natural disasters doesn’t it. Praying for you all up in the Pacific Northwest with fires, Los Angeles with fires, and the line of hurricanes in the southeastern oceans and gulf. This is a year that will test us all.

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