Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Yesterday, I made my way across the nation with the staff of Chestnut Ridge Church. We took two cars on our way to a national conference for Great Commission Churches. We've had a lot of time together lately. Last week, we had an extended planning time for the church, and this week, we are hearing lessons about family that have been learned over the last 35 years that Great Commission has existed as a movement.

Seen in the photo above is the Gateway Arch--a symbol of the westward expansion of the United States. St. Louis is often called the "Gateway to the West." A few years ago, I was able to journey to the top of the arch, and peruse the museum at it's base. There's a tribute to Tecumseh, one of the great Shawnee leaders, in the museum area.

So Yesterday, we crossed the mississippi river, or the M-shi-thii-pi as my ancestors called it. It's name means the great river, and it is flooding it's banks. It is a powerful river, and right now, the M-shi-thii-pi is doing a lot of damage. Twenty-four people have been killed. Many more have been injured. Over 3.4 million acres of cropland have been flooded and inundated with rain. Even in the photo, one can see the flood waters covering much of the riverfront park in St. Louis.

In spite of all the ingenuity of man (we were able to build a 630 ft arch in St. Louis w/o computer aid), there are some things that are more powerful than we are. Among them are the m-shi-thii-pi. When I think of the devastation, and I see the flood waters, I am humbled by the power of the waters. I am saddened by the devastation that is being caused by the river, and in some ways as I drove by the Arch in a mini-van, I feel the helplessness of the communities along the river.

I feel helplessness, but I pray that for these communities it will be temporary as the floodwaters subside. As I drove by yesterday, I felt limited and weak.

I don't fully understand the problems of this world. I am heartbroken by suffering and tragedy, but I am also hopeful. I am hopeful for a day when all of the problems of this world will be put to right. I feel like I've been meditating on this hope a lot lately. When we are confronted with what we see in the news, and often in our own lives, we can always choose hope over despair.

But our hope isn't in vain. It isn't the vain promise of some politician or other leader that things are steadily getting better. It is the hope that one day, ALL that is wrong will be made right, from the floods and the droughts, to the darkness that lies within our own hearts. It will all be dealt with one day, and I look forward expectantly until that day.

Until that day, I pray, and I seek to be a sign and a foretaste of what that day will be like. And as you read, I hope you will join with me.

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