The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Marking time in Iowa

Humans are intentional about marking time. We use familiar terms such as B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (in the year of our Lord). Such terms help us mark points in history.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and many other Midwestern communities, we now have a new way of marking time. We’ve already started to speak in terms of B.F. (before the flood) and A.F. (after the flood)—marking the differences between life then and life now.

How has life changed for us? In B.F. time, it was much easier to travel from place to place. In A.F. time, we maneuver cautiously around relief and cleanup vehicles, as well as the mounds of refuse by the curbs. In B.F. time, some had the comfort of homes and the security of workplaces now washed away by the river. In A.F. time, many must live in shelters and temporary housing. Some work in new places or from home—or not at all.

Before the flood, communities of God’s faithful gathered to worship in solid, damaged places. Now some congregations must find new places to gather for strength and hope.

In B.F. time, we took water service, electricity, emergency personnel, bridges, hospitals, libraries, museums, theaters and restaurants for granted. These days, we’re more conscious of how valuable these services and those who provide them are. We have new appreciation for the things that make our lives easier, safer and more pleasant.

Before the flood. After the flood. Our new way of marking time.

But if you think about it, people of faith have always marked time in terms of “before the flood” and “after the flood.” Before Noah’s flood, the earth was filled with those who wouldn’t listen to God. After God cleansed the earth, God promised this would never happen again. The rainbow in the sky marked the beginning of time after that flood, when God and God’s people would begin again.

What a good, much needed reminder of God’s grace. We’ve all been affected by the flood in varying degrees—even those throughout the country who don’t realize how crop loss will affect the availability and price of their food. And to those of us directly affected, we feel battered and drained—emotionally and spiritually. We feel wet and covered in muck and mold. We’re overwhelmed by the changes we see in our city and in the lives of people we care about so deeply. Some days, we’re daunted by the long-term challenges ahead. We need to be reminded that God will never again let the waters of a flood overcome us—and that water also claims us and keeps us.

We take comfort in the flood of grace and promise that comes through baptism. We cling to that promise, and we immerse ourselves in that water, knowing that our God weeps with us, and will wipe every tear from our eyes, even as we push the water and mud from our towns.

In the words of Julian of Norwich, a mother of the Christian faith: “Christ did not say, ‘Thou shalt not be tempted, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased,’ but he said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.’ ”


Check out this week's articles:

 Chaplain ReebWanted: More military chaplains: Leaders hope for growth in numbers of ELCA pastors on active military duty. (photo at right)

On course: Mini-golf scores as green learning center.

It really is the perfect prayer: With Jesus' words, 'Our Father ... your will be done,' I say all that's needed.

Through Emma’s eyes: We glimpse a glorious world.

Also: Connecting the dots.

Also: Lutherans, Methodists.

Also: Family of graduates.

This week on our staff blog:

Julie Sevig (right) blogs about saving lives by donating blood.

Andrea Pohlmann blogs about the license to believe.

Check out our blog...


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