Dr. Anna is away for vacation. Please consider this re-print of the Minister’s Message from July 17, 2020
Hope Through the Storm: “Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it.” -- Psalms 98:7
Who doesn’t love storm watching? As a child, I stood on the front stoop with my father watching the green sky as he declared hail and pulled the car into the garage. When the sky turned black, he sent me to the basement with my mother and brother, standing firm at the door as if to keep trouble at bay. No matter: a prairie storm can level the tomatoes and uproot trees in a heartbeat. The year a tornado ripped through our Nebraska neighborhood, my family stood in the middle of the basement arguing over where to huddle as our neighbor’s pick-up truck flew by the window, landing upside-down a mile away.
It should come as no surprise that I still take storm warnings seriously. Crossing the West Palm Beach bridge in a blinding rainstorm a few years back, I was shocked witless by the emergency alarm blasting through my cell phone to seek immediate shelter. As a tourist, I learned too late that impossibility, when suspended over water in evacuation traffic. Just now as a first season resident of Vero Beach, I hear murmurings in advance of hurricane season. Locals assure me all will be well, even as emergency provisions gather in pantries, and boats begin their annual move to higher ground.
Most storms of life are quite benign, scattering us briefly for cover. Yet storms of another kind may leave us shaken or wounded in the aftermath. Surely, we find ourselves in such as time as this. Greater troubles gather like a bruise on the horizon, and build for a while before dumping grief upon us. We watch for signs, but cannot always avoid the turmoil. We understand keenly the risks of facing any tempest without an evacuation plan.
Fortunately, the human spirit triumphs with hope greater than any imagined threat. Whatever our background or tradition, we humans have a tendency to seek refuge as reliable as any Midwest, basement corner. We huddle there with the beloved community, with neighbors as near as a phone call, text or email away. When the storm finally passes, as storms do, we will emerge blinking into a cloudless day, eager to assess the damage, help our neighbor, and rebuild our community as needed.
We discover hope through the generosity of neighbors, and we also experience hope through the consolation of our faith. Our people embrace diverse traditions here in Indian River County: Baptist and Baha’i, Catholic and Congregational and all manner of Protestant Christian, Unity and Unitarian, Jewish and Seventh Day Adventist, African Methodist Episcopal, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Hindi, Moslem and Mormon, the spiritual but not religious, and everyone in between.
Every religious or faith tradition embodies a hope we may express differently, yet collectively share. It’s tempting for all of us to bar the doors and ride out our challenges until the world returns to normal. Yet this year of storms created opportunities for a better world on the other side than the one we so reluctantly left behind. By whatever name we call our higher power, energy or God, we humans pray that a source greater than ourselves will reveal the yet hidden path to higher ground for us and for all, and will grant us the courage to take it.
This is our hope. When the storms close round you, it is wise to take cover in the basement or inland, or sheltered in place at home, but never alone, and never afraid. Through the consolation of faith and the generosity of neighbors, we’ll get through this together, whatever the future may bring.
Prayer: God, you know the storms we face, the ones settling down upon us now, and the ones yet forming we cannot see. Shelter us through its entirety, and guide our path through the aftermath. Forever we trust in you. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida