Every time an image of the flooding comes across my newsfeed, or my TV screen, my heart breaks a little bit. The images of the interstates completely submerged…of homes deep in water…and of people awaiting rescue takes my breath away.
And like many of you, my mind turns immediately to friends who live and work along the gulf coast: Peggy, Jessica, Michael, David, Rozella, Beth, Karen and others. And there are those people I’ve gotten to know who work at the Hyatt in Houston, where the Extravaganza will be held from January 26-29, 2018: Elizabeth, Michelle and David. And I worry, and I pray. I’m certain that you are praying too.
Disasters like floods, tornados and hurricanes are always awful experiences. But when you attach names to them, names of colleagues, friends and loved ones, the anxiety just continues to go up.
I’ve received messages from people wondering about the status of Extravaganza 2018 in Houston. And I’ve seen posts on Facebook with people wondering how these floods will affect the ELCA Youth Gathering next summer. The answer is: “of course the floods will have an effect.” It’s too early to know or understand that effect yet.
We will remain in contact with the Hyatt. I’m confident that they will be working to restore their property quickly. As Houston begins its clean up after the storms, the E-Team will be talking about how the events in Houston might affect the program in January.
And while I cannot speak for the Gathering, I’m certain that they too are already thinking, praying and wondering about how these events will give shape to how our young people will walk alongside the residents of Houston next summer.
In the meantime, please continue to pray.
- Pray for the people.
- Pray for their homes.
- Pray for the congregations there.
- Pray for safety.
- Pray for patience.
- Pray for the physical and emotional security of our friends in Houston.
And give. And encourage our congregations to give. As congregational leaders, we are in positions of influence within our communities. Please influence your people to give. Giving to Hurricane Harvey Relief through Lutheran Disaster Response is a great way to give. 100% of funds donated go straight to relief efforts.
And I’d encourage you to follow along with what is happening. Bishop Michael Rinehart of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod has been great about posting updates on social media. I encourage you to follow his blog.
To be church together means that we hold each other in times of joy and in times of pain. This is one of those times when we are called to surround a city with prayer, compassion and love.
Let’s be church together.
And today they come. Yesterday, about half of the Extravaganza planning team came in to the Hyatt in Anaheim, along with those leading the Practice Discipleship Initiative, to start the preparation. There were also a few random folks who came in early just to enjoy California. (And in the mid 70’s a beautiful, what’s not to enjoy?) Today the rest of the E-Team, and all of the Practice Discipleship Coaches, numbering 56, will be rolling in. And some more random folks will start checking in.
We’re pretty much ready, and all of the big pieces are in place. That leaves only some random details.
So today I’m going to ask all of you, whether you’re coming to the E or not, to please take a little time to pray for those who are traveling. Please pray for good weather. Please pray for safety. Please pray for spiritual renewal, for learning and for good connections.
The Extravaganza is more than an event. It is a community, an learning, worship and an accountability to each other. God is not dependent on our prayers. The Holy Spirit shows up because God promises it.
But we still pray, because that’s what God’s people, those who experience the relationship that makes all relationships possible, do.
So please join me in prayer today.
Networked in Christ,