Written by Treena Duncan, Executive Minister, PMRC
I think we are all feeling a little stunned by the breadth of the devastation in our province and the hard evidence of a changing climate. Who could have ever imagined that the roads would collapse, that major highways would be closed for days, that farms and animals be at risk, and the supply chain interrupted once again. And all this on the heels of a brutal fire season and an extended pandemic is beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. People are stranded on highways unable to get where they need to go; parts of the province are completely cut off.
Love, Compassion, Grace
And, at the same time we are witnessing firsthand, love, compassion, and grace. This comes in the form of local heroes stepping up to help one another, rescuing people and animals from dangerous situations. People taking strangers into their homes, helping one another no questions asked.
Over the past few days, we have all been hearing stories of resilience. Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back, to manage adversity and return to ‘normal’. I’m not sure that we have any idea anymore what normal looks like, but I do know what resilience looks like. It looks like families taking in strangers and rescuing animals, it looks like communities overflowing with volunteers, it looks people sharing food and water. We have needed a lot of resilience over the past couple of years, and now, even more is required. I received this note from Rev Michael Caveney of Kamloops United:
“(For donations) we go through the Canada Helps portal because they issue the tax receipt instantly and the funds get deposited into our account. This was excellent for the fire relief where we raised over $18,000. We have been talking with the people coordinating the relief effort here in Kamloops (the centre is overrun and anything we can do is great.). KUC folk have been at the centre volunteering. I don’t know what it is like in Vancouver, but all of the stores here are out of milk, butter, eggs, produce (fresh and frozen) and the shelves of canned stuff are beginning to empty out. Fortunately, for Sunday’s food program, we have a couple of weeks buffer of food in the freezers. Last Sunday, 250 take out meals were served. I am finding that people are just mentally and emotionally exhausted. Lots of people are stopping by the church just to talk. Thanks for your support and prayers.”
We are lucky, because as a gathered body we have faith, and hope, and love and we know that through all of this challenge we are loved and held by God and by each other. Being the wide-spread community of United Church people in this regional council, we know that many Communities of Faith, their leaders, members, and animals are directly affected by the flooding, and facing very, very challenging times. We hold you in prayer and love. May you find strength, courage, rest and resilience, and know that you are not alone.
Our Regional Ministers are available to provide support and guidance to you through this challenging time. Marc Coloumbe, Debra Bowman and Kathy Davis were all stranded by the floods but they are now home safely, via the United States!
Many people have been inquiring about how to help; another example of faith in action! Generally speaking, organizations such as the Red Cross are best positioned to get the kind of support needed into the community quickly and effectively. However, Kamloops United and Trinity United in Abbotsford are willing to receive donations which will be used to offer relief through their community ministries. Please scroll below for the links to donate to the churches and the Red Cross.
And in this all, we sit on the cusp of Advent, the Christian New Year.
Right now it might feel a little hard to really allow ourselves to live into the fullness of Advent, this season of Hope. I’m not sure how many Ted Lasso fans there are out there? In Season One, Episode 10, implant-American soccer coaches ‘Ted’ and ‘Beard’ go to the local British pub to discuss tactics leading up to a big game for the UK team they’ve found themselves leading. Ted wonders why the fans don’t have any hope, and the bartender quips, “It’s the hope that kills you”. During the team’s pep talk right before kick off, Ted reminds his players that it is, in fact “the lack of hope that kills you”. As people of Hope, we know this is true, and it’s why we celebrate Hope on the first Sunday of Advent. Hope sustains all.
As we watch and pray for the water to recede and for people to find their way home, we remember that in living Hope, we also need to nourish it. We’re fortunate to have already scheduled Janice MacLean of the Prayer Bench to join us next Wednesday in a special Town Hall with Chinook Winds (Nov 24), on the very topic of Hope. Janice will also be introducing an at-home resource, Hope Matters, that is available to you for personal or group work. I encourage you to join us, to take time to recharge and reconnect with Hope, and to attend the town hall.
May we be a Hope-full and resilient people this Advent season.
Treena Duncan, Executive Minister
Pacific Mountain Regional Council of the United Church of Canada