“I have worked in a lot of disaster areas, but I have never seen a community so resilient.”
This was the comment made to me recently by one of the visiting contractors assisting families in the cleanup from the flood of 2011 in Minot, N.D.
With a sense of respect and admiration, he noted the firm resolve on the part of families whose homes needed to be “gutted” and cleaned. Neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers by the hundreds are the things he will always remember about the evacuations and months that followed the flooding in Minot. By the look on the face of the stranger when he made the comment to me, I could tell he didn’t say that to everyone. But he wasn’t the first person to make this kind of comment to me. Therefore, I think it is important for us to start with a stranger’s comment when looking ahead to the significance of our upcoming annual stewardship renewal at my parish, St John the Apostle.
Resilience is necessary for “recovery.” The “recovery” continues for many of our parish family. The flood of 2011 made history, while in other parts of the country and the world, other events are making history as well. Recovery efforts around our nation — in places such as Joplin Mo., where a F5 tornado destroyed 8,000 homes and tragically ended 177 lives and even more recently, Hurricane Irene — left many wondering, as we have, “what is next?” Economic woes and violence around the world, personal loss and despair are reported as easily as the weather report or baseball scores. There is a lot going on everywhere. Here at home in Minot, our lives are consumed with the various steps and ongoing challenges of what is called “recovery.” The resilience of our community has been noticed. But one does wonder, will the recovery of our community become our renewal?
“Renewal” is the word we use when each year we invite everyone to recommit to living the stewardship way of life. This year, our parish delayed our “Renewal,” but decided it is too important to cancel it. Perhaps the events of 2011 will prompt us to a conversion of sorts and lead us to a better way of life. Stewardship is not that easy, even in good times and a bigger challenge when times are tough. And, yet, we are called or rather invited by Christ to a life of discipleship in all kinds of conditions and circumstances.
Over the past six years at St. John the Apostle, people have consistently told me their personal lives are better because they practice a stewardship way of life. I know they are not just saying something I want to hear, for I can tell in the sound of their voice and enthusiasm, they are convinced of what they are saying. Despite the personal loss of property, inconveniences, and many other “things” that were often taken for granted, there is a “firm resolve” to retain what is left, what is still good and what is most important. Perhaps, some realize the reason for coming to worship at St. John the Apostle Church is more essential now, even more bonding than ever before.
The flood of 2011 has hit our parish family hard, but the faith of our parish continues to lift up those who feel the weight of all that has happened. Our whole community feels its loss and struggles with uncertainties and rediscovering hope.
For some, “recovery” means finding security again. For others it may mean regaining dignity. And still, for others, it may mean rediscovering their faith and trust in God. I propose that recovery also means renewal: Renewal of hope, renewal of priorities; renewal of trust; renewal of faith; renewal of the stewardship way of life. St. John’s Renewal Weekend will take place on Nov. 13. Our recovery will lead to our renewal in more than our physical property. Our commitment to follow Christ, will most certainly restore us and strengthen us to be all we are called to be, for the blessings of “resilience” will never let us down. In fact, it is what energizes the stewardship way of life.