Earthy Wisdom: Storm

Storm Hare
Tamsin Abbott (link)

Showing Up in the Storm
This past weekend I was with Craig in Santa Ana, California, for a Simpson University conference. The plan was to fly back to Redding on Sunday night to spend Monday with Johanna and a friend who had driven down from Canada on Sunday, and then go home Tuesday. It sounded like such a doable plan!

However, upon arriving Sunday night in San Francisco for our connecting flight, we learned a storm in the mountains had cancelled all remaining flights to Redding. The next possible flight was in 24 hours.

At the customer service desk, the agents had a swarm of temporarily displaced people on their hands. A mother with a baby who needed medical care. A flock of people the airlines were going to put on a shuttle bus to Sacramento. An older woman with curly grey hair and a European accent. 

The agents were calm and kind, treating each of us as if our situation and circumstances mattered. The curly haired woman slid a little bar of chocolate across to one of the agents, a middle-aged Latino man. He looked at her and said, softly and kindly, Now ma’am, none of that. Nope, … no tears. It’s going to be okay. I’m here to take care of you. My job is to make sure you are going to be okay. He slowly pushed the chocolate back towards her. You keep that. You go find yourself a little quiet corner and enjoy that chocolate. 

Noah was also at the counter. As student body president at Simpson he had also attended the conference. It turned out that we know Noah—he went to White Rock Christian with our kids. In all his dealings with the people around him, he was calm, kind, and encouraging. When I suggested he try and get on the shuttle to Sacramento rather than wait 24 hours in the airport, he said, “No, they only have 14 seats. There’s more than 14 people. I don’t want to take one of their seats.” 

“I am learning patience”, he said to me later while waiting for the airport to find our bags. He loves Jesus and wants to be like him.

Not wanting to miss our time with Jo, we decided to rent a car and take Noah with us. We reserved a car over the phone with Budget, but after another long line, there was no indicator of our reservation when we got to the counter. At that moment, Norm, the President of Simpson, and his wife, Allison, walked in. Seeing our plight, they rented a bigger car and took the three of us in.

We drove home through some torrential rain, arriving at 3:00 am. On the drive, I thought about the hurricane approaching Puerto Rico. The epic storm that had just hit Alaska. All the storms that await us as the climate crisis deepens. How little control we have over the powers of wind and rain. 

Yet, we do have control over how we show up in the midst of the storm.

I witnessed humanity’s beauty: the calm, compassionate leadership of the agents. The vulnerability and generosity of the curly-haired woman. The fierce mama-bear protectiveness of the baby’s mom. The creative problem solving of those who arranged the shuttle. The general spirit of amiability in the crowd of people waiting. The servant-hearted nature of Noah. The generosity of Norm and Allison, who not only enlarged their rental car but treated us to an unexpected midnight burger feast. All unplanned moments of human warmth and connection. All these human beings, imaging God for one another. This is what we each had control over that night—how we showed up in the storm. 

It reminded me of the old Matt Redman song from the weekend: “Whatever may pass and whatever lies before us, may we be singing when the evening comes.”

Traveling through Oregon late at night, Johanna and Brock stopped at a small grocery. It was empty but for the cashier who, taking advantage of his thimbleful of power, told them a “joke”. It was explicitly sexual and crudely objectified women. When they told me this story this week, I didn’t laugh. I groaned. 

Groans are powerful. Groans keep us from making peace with things that have no peace. 

Jaahnavi Kandula, a graduate student from India, was studying in Seattle. While crossing the street in January, she was hit and killed by a speeding police car. This week, the body cam video of the officer sent to assess the incident became public. He was vice president of Seattle’s police union. While speaking to the union president in the recording he confirms her death and then laughs: “Yeah, just write a cheque — $11,000. She was 26, anyway. She had limited value.” (NYT article link)

I heard these two stories on the same day. The “micro”—in this instance, something as small as laughter—is the expression of the “macro”, the ubiquity of misogyny.

Maybe groaning is having its day.

In Romans 8, there is groaning, too: Creation, every microscopic part of it, is groaning. Humans are groaning. God’s Spirit is groaning—an inexpressible groan, too deep for words. 

When we groan, our bodies and breath take over. Our bodies show us what is becoming intolerable, what is violating our deep values and convictions. A groan is prophetic. A groan dares to call out what must no longer be

Last week, a super storm dropped an unprecedented amount of rain—a year’s worth—in a single day near Derna, Libya. Both dams in the city burst, washing twenty percent of the town into the sea. Folk acquainted with war, dislocation, and hunger now face the grief of thousands missing. It feels like the whole earth is groaning these days. 

Despite all this, creation continues to hope. From Romans 8: “For the creation is waiting in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.”

Could it truly be, after all we’ve done, that creation has not given up on us? That it sees potential in us? Is waiting for us, the collective children of God, to step up and become kin? Could it truly be that we are the ones for whom the earth waits?

The groans are the deep work of the Spirit, birthing a new way of being. The grief breaks us open and builds momentum within us, pressing down with strength and conviction into us. Through our collective groaning, too deep for words, something is being liberated—born. A piercing cry: “It is time.”

Time to be connected rather than cut off from our power. 

Time to say, “You may not talk about my daughter, or anyone else’s daughter, or treat anyone’s body, including the earth, this way, any more.”   

No more laughing at and minimizing the harm being done. 
No more self-justifying and excusing the harm being done. 
No more numbing and distracting ourselves from the harm being done.

It’s time to feel the deep groans of the entire created order gathering strength and momentum inside of us. 

The flood in Libya was caused by drops of rain. Tiny, inconsequential raindrops joined together, became the force that broke dams and tore down houses. Raindrops did that. The micro became the macro as water gained momentum and sped down the hillside. 

Our tiny choices matter. If everyone stopped laughing at misogynistic jokes they would cease to be jokes. Patriarchy is made up of tiny raindrops. But so is the reign of God.

This is the season of creation. All over the world those who follow Jesus are figuring out how to be better kin to creation. Young people are protesting in London. Farmers are planting trees in Central America. Nuns are holding prayer vigils. Church leaders are signing treaties. The river is building strength, building momentum. 

“The Season of Creation fills us with hope, because we are many, around the world, celebrating in unity for our common home: every small action counts to make the river of justice and peace flow!”**

Deep peace and blessing,
Anne

Rev. Anne Baxter Smith
Pastor, Church at Southpoint

** From the Season of Creation website. 

PS. If you want to catch up before this Sunday:
(1) Forest Sunday
(2) Land Sunday
(3) Wilderness Sunday

Worship Calendar

Location & Zoom. We meet on Sundays at 15639 24 Avenue, Surrey. Zoom is offered if you cannot attend in person. If you have trouble with the zoom link, use: meeting ID: 831 1690 9977 with password: 753319

Sermons Are Podcasted
Catch up on Southpoint sermons by finding the podcast “Meditations from the Church at Southpoint” on Spotify, Apple and Google. They’re also available on our website: www.southpoint.ca.

Sun Sep 24 All IN Anne Baxter Smith
Season of Creation (4) Let Justice Flow in the Rivers
Amos 5:24, Isa 43:19, Rev 22: 1-5

Sun Oct 1 St Francis Sunday
Refreshing our Imagination
Joy Banks: introducing our four core images.
Isa 55

Sun Oct 8   Jake Tucker
Thanksgiving Sunday
The God of Small Things
Luke 13: 18-21

Sun Oct 15  Anne Baxter Smith
Well
John 4:1-42 (**v 13-14)

Sun Oct 22 ALL OUT  Service Opportunity TBA
No service in the Sunnyside building

Sun Oct 29 Fifth Sunday Brunches
No service in the Sunnyside building

Sun Nov 5   Anne Baxter Smith
Table 
Matthew 14:13-21

Sun Nov 12  Anne Baxter Smith
Net
John 21: 1-14

Sun Nov 19 Anne Baxter Smith
Seed
Mark 4: 26-29, Ps 26:5,6

New to Southpoint?

At Southpoint, it all begins with God’s love. Just as a plant grows, it receives sunshine, so we grow as we receive God’s love. At Southpoint, we are growing in our capacity to love God, ourselves, one another, and creation.

We seek to be a community of grace that is intentional yet organic, spacious yet authentic, grace-filled yet accountable. * We are fully welcoming. *

We encourage relationships rather than run programs, yet we recognize the importance of intentionality and structure as we nurture life together.

As a community, we seek to put our love in action. We value helping out on Sunday mornings, sharing food, and showing up in hard times. We keep our church life simple so folk have time to build relationships with family, friends, and neighbours. We encourage folk to serve in tangible ways within the wider community. We rent space rather than own a building, allowing us to do more with less, supporting missions at home and abroad.

Curious to know more?

These six slides express what motivates our ministry (best viewed on a monitor). Here’s the bio of our Pastor, Rev. Anne Baxter Smith.

If you’d like to really peek inside, sign up for our weekly Southpoint News (scroll to brown footer at bottom of page). The Southpoint News is a MailChimp distributed email—you can unsubscribe anytime and will not be added to our contacts list. Email us at office@southpoint.ca. Website: southpoint.ca.

Progress Pride Flag by Daniel Quasar (link)

We’re observing the Season of Creation over the Sundays leading to St Francis of Assisi day on Oct 2.

With readings in a liturgical pattern similar to that of Advent, the series follows a broad pattern of creation, alienation, passion and new creation, giving special attention to the story of the Earth, which complements the story of God and the story of humanity in the Scriptures.

Celebrating Kinship with Creation

Sun. Sep 25 ALL INCosmos Sunday

Sun. Oct 2St Francis Sunday
Blessing of the animals

Joining by Zoom?
We continue to have a zoom offering if you cannot attend in  person! The Zoom meeting link is here.
If you have trouble with the link, use:
meeting ID: 831 1690 9977
with password: 753319

New to Southpoint?

At Southpoint, it all begins with God’s love. Just as a plant grows, it receives sunshine, so we grow as we receive God’s love. At Southpoint, we are growing in our capacity to love God, ourselves, one another, and creation.

We seek to be a community of grace that is intentional yet organic, spacious yet authentic, grace-filled yet accountable. * We are fully welcoming. *

We encourage relationships rather than run programs, yet we recognize the importance of intentionality and structure as we nurture life together.

As a community, we seek to put our love in action. We value helping out on Sunday mornings, sharing food, and showing up in hard times. We keep our church life simple so folk have time to build relationships with family, friends, and neighbours. We encourage folk to serve in tangible ways within the wider community. We rent space rather than own a building, allowing us to do more with less, supporting missions at home and abroad.

Curious to know more?

These six slides express what motivates our ministry (best viewed on a monitor). Here’s the bio of our Pastor, Rev. Anne Baxter Smith.

If you’d like to really peek inside, sign up for our weekly Southpoint News (scroll to brown footer at bottom of page). The Southpoint News is a MailChimp distributed email—you can unsubscribe anytime and will not be added to our contacts list. Email us at office@southpoint.ca. Website: southpoint.ca.

Progress Pride Flag by Daniel Quasar (link)

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