Waverly Newspaper – Weekly Pastor’s Column
From The Pastor’s Desk . . .
Rev. Tom Barnard, M.Div
Pastor, Trinity UMC, Waverly
Who Are We is a question that is being seriously talked about in homes, businesses, and community groups all over the world. I would like to l look at that question for Waverly, Iowa. We are a resilient people that have gone through much in the past dozen years. Floods, tornados, serious snow and cold, and unrelenting rain. As plains people or for the newcomers those learning to be plains people adversity is a way of life, a conversation starter, and a badge of survival honor.
Yet, in most of our lifetimes we have never had to face an unseen force that threatens our way of life. Some can remember the polio shutdown of beaches and public places in the 1950’s but that is the closest we have to the COVID19 lockdowns we are now experiencing. Our neighbors and friends who own businesses are struggling to try from going bankrupt or simply closing their business before all their resources are expended. That means jobs lost, ways of life changed, stress on individuals and families, depression and all that brings.
As a pastor I hear much of the struggle. I feel the pain. I pass tissues to the one sitting across from me to dry their tears. Mine is the easy job. Theirs is the gut-wrenching empty feeling that hopelessness brings.
But there is hope! There is an abundance of hope if we can just look up and know that the Creator God is still the one in control. That the living God knows that his creation has faced unseen plagues before and each time they have survived and come back heartier and smarter.
In the Old Testament (Torah) the concept of hope is most often expressed by the words betakh, khasah, yakhal, and qawah. Batakh has connotations that are both positive (to rely on someone), and negative (to have false security). I think that we, the plains people, have learned the positive lesson of hope as expressed by batakh. We rely on each other AND on our God.
Our neighbor, friend, family member, or confidant will give us words of hope if we will let them. However, it is through the hope given to us as Easter People that will steady our soul, calm our nerves, and steel us to move forward no matter the enemy. The Apostle Peter gave and restored hope as he preached to the crowds following his meetings with the risen Lord. He watched 3,000 be baptized by the Holy Spirit and given renewed hope for this realm and for their eternity.
We live in a world of uncertainty. A world that is not perfect by any definition. But we are a people of the already (He has come) and a people of the not yet (we will see him again). Hope is what we have to take us through this time of the not yet. Be strong, be vigilant, be honest and hopeful, and when we come out the other side of this pandemic we will rejoice again with hugs and tears as we express the reality of hope and love.