As you know, our home was destroyed last week by the terrible fires in Boulder County. As we struggled to grasp the harsh reality of this life-changing loss, I found myself saying things in an effort to comfort my wife and daughters. At one point I remember telling them “It’s okay. It’s okay.” My wife, Nellie, in her wonderful and wise way grasped my hand, looked into my eyes and with great love said “No. No, it is not okay. Not today. Not right now. But it will be okay in time.” In that moment of clarity, this important truth dawned on me: we are homeless, but we are not hopeless – we may not have a home, but we do have hope.
In our community, some of us lost our homes, but all of us lost something. Some lost their plans for the weekend, most lost water and power, and many lost their neighborhoods. Most of all, we lost the comforting illusion that we are in control. These other losses, while less visible, are no less real. They cut to the heart of who we are as individuals and as a community. We will struggle with confusion and fear and anger, yet, as we wade through these rough and emotional waters of loss and grief, we can keep a firm grasp on hope – a hope for the day when we emerge from the present chaos to the dawn of a daily life when things will be okay. And we remember that God is the source of our hope. We strive to keep in mind that our true home – our heavenly home – was not marred and was not threatened by the consuming fire.
Thank you to all of you, and to all our brother deacons, and the wives and families who have been so powerful in their support for us. Already, we have experienced the overwhelming response of brothers, friends and community members who have sprung into action to help all of us who are hurting. And we are being supported by the generous love of “neighbors” – not just those neighbors who live on our street, or our neighbors in Boulder County, but neighbors across the state and the country – neighbors we will never meet and never know. In the Bible, when Jesus was asked “who is my neighbor?”, he responded with the famous parable about the good Samaritan. We are humbled and honored at the response of these neighbors – these good Samaritans – for helping us in these difficult days. Our hearts overflow with awe and wonder at this tidal wave of love and support that washes over us and carries us up to that sea of hope.
The tears we shed have been many and that flow of tears is not done yet – it’s not even close to being done. I’m finding that tears come often when the wonderful people in our lives come to us to offer their help, their quiet presence and maybe the comfort of a hug. In those encounters, there is a strange mix of sadness and joy – recognizing real loss and the sadness we are experiencing, but also grasping the joy of our survival and of the relationships of love that bind us together. These are wonderful, wordless moments that connect us at a deeper level as we unite heart to heart. In those moments, we see and feel God’s presence in a powerful and tangible way. The fire has taken some things from us, but we are truly and deeply loved by God and by our neighbors. That truth can be and should be for us a source of joy.
The whole history of the world changed at that first Christmas. This year, as we celebrated the coming of Jesus, we have been reminded that the saving mission of Jesus was not completed at his birth. Jesus lived and worked and taught while continuing his journey along the path to Calvary. His glorious resurrection comes only after his suffering and death. We who are followers of Jesus remember that he called all of us to take up our cross and follow Him along that path. Today we pray to God that he will give us the graces we need in the months ahead. We pray that the Holy Spirit might help and guide us to an ever-deeper love of God and our neighbor. We invite you to join us in these prayers to our loving Father.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Your brother in Christ,