My church newsletter column for St. Peter Lutheran Church, Greene, Iowa, for September, 2017.
One Year After the Flood
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Can you believe it’s been nearly a year since last September’s flood? At the time, I had been here serving as your pastor for two months, and I was just starting to get into the fall routine of church life.
Many people have asked what it was like having such a significant disaster occur so early in my tenure. Obviously I wish the flood hadn’t happened, but since it did happen, I’m glad I was here for it. I’m grateful to have shared the experience with so many people. Nothing helps you get to know people quite like serving alongside them and filling sandbags together!
In the flood’s immediate aftermath, I saw a new side of our community. I saw people drop their plans and come together to fill sandbags, clear branches, and empty out homes and businesses. I saw the power of neighbors in nearby towns sending volunteers and calling the church to find out how they could contribute resources.
As I preached that weekend, “Amid all the flooding and struggles we’re dealing with, this week has given me hope, because I’ve seen people come together to help each other, to love their neighbors. As we go on and start to recover, to clean up, how can we keep coming together? No one shoveling sand into a bag asked if the person holding it was rich or poor. No one loading a truck asked if the person taking the sandbags was Lutheran or Catholic or even if they went to church or who they’re voting for. How can we hold on to that?”
That’s a question I continue to ask today. In these challenging times of division in our country, where every issue seems to be so politically charged, how can we come together as the people of God? How can we speak with a unified voice where the world needs to hear from us?
How can we come together as the Church – the body of Christ – to condemn hate, white supremacy, racism, terrorism, fear-mongering , violence, and all the other evils of this world while standing for life, opportunity, and justice for all? How do we proclaim the good news of God’s love in Jesus to this divided, hurting, and sinful world that so desperately need to hear it?
I don’t have all the answers, but I would point to the ways I’ve seen the church living out faith in the response to the flood as one example. Here in Butler County, the disaster relief coalition assisted 71 families, giving direct financial assistance of $26,445.13 to 21 families.
Every penny of that came from churches, including $10,000 from our own ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod, as well as over $1,500 through our congregation. Shortly after the flood, Redeemer Lutheran from Waverly used our building to host a community meal. When we live out our faith by serving our neighbors, we point to the Gospel, to God who is still at work in our world.
As we move into a new school year, may we continue to witness to our Savior through our love for others. May we continue sharing the good news our world needs, and may we continue exploring these questions. See you in worship this fall!
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Daniel Flucke