Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Last week, I visited Staten Island to share with the survivors and relief workers responding to Hurricane Sandy. Friends, the view on the ground revealed a level of devastation that has created a wide swath of wreckage. While it is tempting to remain in the grief that is a natural consequence of disaster, God calls us to a different response. There are signs of hope in the midst of the storm's aftermath.
While in the New Dorp Beach neighborhood, we encountered members of the military, Occupy Wall Streeters, police personnel, and a variety of community organizers. Among the responders was the Reverend Dale Ashby and a team from Colchester Community UMC in the Western Catskills. Also providing leadership was layperson Theodora Cross, of the Faith UMC on Staten Island, who is an Emergency Response Trained (ERT) volunteer. Sister Theodora coordinated a cross section of church-based and other community participants in the cleanup effort.
During our time at New Dorp Beach, I encountered a young woman who was a veteran volunteer responder. She remarked that she was new to New York and a United Methodist. As we continued conversing, it became clear that she was looking for a church home. I shared a few geographical possibilities and we returned to the task at hand. In the midst of challenge, God provides hope. Folks from the Western Catskills joined new friends from New York City in an effort to make a difference.
I also encountered a man standing in front of his house which had been shaken off of its foundation. When he learned that we were United Methodists, he began talking about the author C.S. Lewis who though Anglican is sometimes associated with Methodism. This enlightened conversation occurred steps from the wreckage of a destroyed home, hope in the midst of struggle.
Beloved, as you journey remember that God does some of God's best work in times of trial. Just ask Job, or the woman with the issue of intense bleeding. Let us continue in our journey of being part of God's response to the trial of Hurricane Sandy. God expects nothing less.
All my prayers,
Bishop Martin D. McLee
New York Annual Conference, United Methodist Church | 20 Soundview Avenue | White Plains | NY | 10606