We live on the river. We enjoy its beauty, its variety, its reflections of the sun and moon, the wildlife that comes to visit.
We also watch its movements and when the waters start to rise, we know what backyard markers to pay attention to as ways to gauge the river's rising; the flower cauldron in the lower yard, the landscaping wall by the hosta bed, the big walnut in the upper yard.
Of course life on the river brings occasional challenges, too. When the water approaches that big walnut tree, as it did in 2016, we drop 3 pumps in the hole, snake the hoses out the basement windows and pay careful attention, often sleeping in shifts to be able to monitor activity.
In 2008, the river brought us the challenges and opportunity of a total first floor makeover because of a 500-year flood. Hundreds of others dealt with flood challenges, too.
I was wondering the other day, as the river was again rising, if our relationship with God is like our relationship with the river. Full of beauty, comfort, life, joy and, yes, the occasional challenge, but something we value nonetheless.
Another connection with the river is that when all is going smoothly, I don't pay as much attention to it. We simply enjoy it, take it all in, comment on its beauty and then keep moving. That's not a bad thing. If we had to pay constant attention to the river, we wouldn't get much else done.
Like the river when it's peaceful, our relationship with God can be easy to take for granted when life is going well. After all, our to-do lists are abundant, we're rarely caught up on sleep, there are so many other things clamoring for our attention that God may not be uppermost in our hearts and minds. But those earlier times help us navigate the tougher times, because we know that God is faithful, that we cant trust God.
When i think back to 2008 and the challenges we faced to reclaim our home and our lives, I'm reminded of the amazing goodness of people we saw and experienced. The rising and then receding river brought out the best in people. We came together around a common good to help each other. Challenging time in our faith encourage us to seek and accept help, guidance and encouragement from others.
There's a lot going on in our world today. A relationship with God that will carry us through the calm waters and the choppy seas is essential. Just like a river, our relationship with God can provide comfort, beauty and yes, even challenge.
A relationship with the living God can also bring out the best in us as we come together for a common good: to worship God as brothers and sisters in Christ. May that be true for all connected to St. Timothy as we get back into the rhythm of worship and life together. I hope to see you in church.