A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Faith Reflections on the Recent Botulism Outbreak

The recent news about a botulism outbreak at a neighboring church in the community where I serve leaves us all with heavy hearts. Many are critically ill and one person has died from this illness.

The United Methodist clergy in our surrounding area met this morning for our monthly prayer and discussion gathering. There are ten of us that meet. We lifted the Cross Pointe Baptist church and their pastor in prayer. We also ended up sending a message to the church and their pastor that we are praying for them and are available to make any pastoral hospital visits on their behalf since those who are ill are patients at various Columbus hospitals. It's the least that we can do in a situation as sad as this. 

One of our pastors offered a very helpful insight during our discussion. She said that we as clergy need to provide a sense of Christ's peace and calmness in the midst of this time of fear and anxiety about potlucks and gatherings that involve home-made food. While it's important to be better educated about the preparation of food at home, we also need to keep in mind that these cases are very rare according to the data.

Jesus ended up calming the storm by saying, "Peace, be still."

Whenever I feel anxious and fearful, I am reminded of the story of when Jesus was in the boat with the disciples and a storm appeared out of nowhere. As the boat was taking on water and the disciples were fearful, Jesus ended up calming the storm by saying, "Peace, be still."

The real miracle in this gospel story isn't so much that Jesus stopped a storm, but that he was able to bring peace to the disciples who were facing the storm. This tragic situation that has happened to a neighboring congregation reminds me that Jesus is in the boat with us as we face these large waves.

This storm may cause us to feel anxious and remind us of our mortality, but the good news of our faith is that we are not alone in the storm. The risen Christ is with us.

"Peace, be still."

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