Hope in the Midst of Adversity

February 4, 2019
Joyce Landers, UTO Board Vice President, Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

During the past two months, we have focused all our attention on the arrival of the Christ child. Soon, we will be entering the season of Lent, when we will focus our hearts and minds on Jesus as an adult who has come into the world to show us the true meaning of love in a very tangible way. I have always loved the passage above because it captures the whole story of Jesus in just a few short verses. Jesus has come into the world to be our light in the darkness and to bring salvation to all. This is the good news we hear Paul so often talk about in his letters.

Does Jesus’ arrival mean that we will no longer have pain and suffering? Unfortunately, that is not the case. The story of his life and death exemplifies the true meaning of love, but that love does not erase or fix the brokenness of our world. We still have wars, hatred, violence, and disease. The most important lesson to learn is that Jesus is our light and salvation. Because Jesus came to earth and sacrificed everything for us, we can replace fear with hope. Through Jesus, we can face the realities of this life knowing that we do not walk alone.

I live in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. Many of our members are going through the process of recovering from Hurricane Michael. Homes were damaged and destroyed, as well as churches and several Episcopal schools. On the Sunday after Michael hit, Holy Nativity in Panama City, Florida held a regular church service. The road to the church was impassable, and a good portion of the building’s roof was missing, but they had Eucharist anyway. The members met amidst the debris because their faith gave them hope for the future. Sitting in that space, even though it was heavily damaged, provided them with comfort and solace.

During the past three years of serving on the UTO Board, I have seen many examples like this that illustrate the hope and resiliency that come from having a relationship with God. Each grant represents a new ministry that has helped God’s people become the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. As we move into the next season in our Church, let us pause to remember these important truths. God sent His son to live and die to show us the way out of darkness. God is with us and loves us unconditionally. We owe God our highest praise and thanksgiving. The United Thank Offering offers a very tangible way to show that gratitude. We thank you all for your participation!