Thursday, November 08, 2012

Mutual Conversation and Consolation in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

What follows is a post I recently wrote for the Vicar's Page on the Saint Peter's Church website:

The last couple weeks have been a real roller coaster for us folks here in New York.  After days without power, near impossible commutes and horrible loss of property and life courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, we faced the incredible stress of a historic presidential election.  Just as the city was beginning to recover from the destruction wrought by a tropical storm system, we're got blanketed in a thick layer of heavy, wet snow.  I feel exhausted and even a bit disoriented after all the life that's happened over the last couple weeks, but I've also found grounding in the amazing example of Christian community I experienced at Saint Peter's this past Sunday.  The contribution of our Episcopal neighbors at the 11a Mass was uplifting and encouraging, as was the wedding during Sion's Misa and the strong images of God's light during the evening jazz service.

The most powerful aspect of Christian community at Saint Peter's this past Sunday however happened both during and in between worship services.  Whether during a sharing of peace or sharing of food over brunch, the Spirit was working to bring the gospel to all of us, through all of us.  In one of my favorite passages of the Book of Concord, Luther reflects this idea of mutual sharing of the gospel in section III.4 of the Smalcald Articles:
We now want to return to the gospel, which gives guidance and help against sin in more than one way, because God is extravagantly rich in his grace: first, through the spoken word, in which the forgiveness of sins is preached to the whole world (which is the proper function of the gospel); second, through baptism; third, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar; fourth, through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brothers and sisters.  Matthew 18:20: "Where two or three are gathered..."
Similar to Luther's concept of mutual confession and absolution between friends and neighbors, I heard numerous conversations this past Sunday through which the good news of God's saving grace in Christ was shared.  Some of us who were only marginally affected by the storm heard the harrowing tales of others who were isolated for a time by flood waters.  Stories were told about homes or places of work being destroyed, and the folks who shared those stories were supported by others gathered around the brunch table.  The Saint Peter's community recognized that part of its mission was to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy not just now, but also in the months and perhaps years to come.  Through mutual conversation and consolation, the peace and love of God was shared this past Sunday, and that indeed is good news.

God's peace,

Dustin is currently a vicar at the Lutheran Office for World Community and Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan, having recently completed his second year of a Masters of Divinity program at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. While seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, his focus is on the intersection between worship, service and justice building in de-centralized faith communities unencumbered by a traditional church building. In his free time, Dustin likes playing frisbee, hiking and pretending to know how to sing.

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