Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 27 Day of Remembrance

I invite everyone to participate in the “Day of Remembrance” on Friday. Last year, on April 27, there were 63 devastating tornadoes that ripped through the heart and soul of Alabama. 252 lives were lost and many other lives were disrupted. Many great churches responded with fervor and grace in their relief efforts. Lots of people began the process of healing and rebuilding their lives.

For many, the experience is still raw and the one year anniversary will be highly emotionally and spiritually significant. So I invite you to pause and to pray.

Governor Bentley has proclaimed Friday as a “Day of Remembrance.” He has invited us to participate in a statewide moment of silence at 4:27 p.m. If you are not able to pause at that exact time, please take some time to pray for those affected by the mind-boggling experience of last year.

The last couple of weeks, I have shared just a few of my personal remembrances of last year. I lived in Madison County, where power and communications were completely shut down for almost a week. My wife and I talked about how the video we showed in traditional services remembering April 27 had footage we had never seen, since there was no way we could have seen it. Not sure what to do, I went on a ministry of knocking on doors to communicate with congregants over who was affected and who could help. No one in my congregation died, but two homes had been destroyed and two others damaged. I rolled up my sleeves and spent one day helping a church family move out of their demolished home to a friend’s house. I remember vividly driving up to our nearby sister church, Ford’s Chapel UMC, and the surreal experiences of supporting their pastor and seeing how hard their historic chapel and the neighborhoods around them were hit.

Yesterday, I recalled what it was like for the people of our own neighborhood in Madison to come together. By day, we all helped and worked and assisted wherever we could. Each night, since all of our freezer food was melting, we had a big cookout in the cul-de-sac in front of my house. People who were normally too busy to talk, or in some cases even meet, were suddenly all in this together, finding fun and a way to relax in the midst of the trauma. I was introduced to “spaghetti tacos” by the neighborhood kids and all sorts of games. I found, once again, the surprising truth that in tragedy, people connect in ways they never had before. And there was grace.

As I was sitting there one night in the neighborhood watching the kids play after we all ate together, I kept coming back to the phrase in Luke’s version of the walk to Emmaus story: “And he was known in the breaking of bread.” And he was.