I'm writing this "the morning after." The morning after high winds, thunderstorms, tornados, and yes, snow cut a swath through the southern Great Plains and Upper Midwest. This wasn't unexpected, it had been forecasted for several days with surprising accuracy. Today's technology is not foolproof, but it gives us a much larger picture of the possibilities than we had even ten years ago. Our job is to take the information and use it for the best results in our context. To achieve this level of meteorology took many people, over many centuries who kept notes, watched patterns, listened to stories, and shared all that with the world, so the next generation could build on that hard work that had already been done.
The disheartening thing about this is those who, often with malice, attack the one who shares the results of these centuries of work with those affected. If the timing isn't just right in the naysayers mind, the rest of the information is useless. If total precipitation doesn't add up to the forecasted amount, the information should all be thrown out. When the weather passes by them without catastrophic events then all who shared the information have overreacted.
Here's the amazing thing! Even when someone is a naysayer it doesn't keep the information from being recorded. Even when a disgruntled citizen takes to social media to attempt to cut the centuries of research to the core, the information is shared and compared to other events. Even when those who attack for no apparent reason speak with derision and disrespect to someone they don't know, on a topic in which they are simply an observer of, observations are explored for clues. A much repeated saying goes something like this, "Their actions are a reflection on them, not you." Though negativity and unconstructive criticism is hard to deal with, that doesn't change the story. The events still happen and there is more knowledge now than before the event. We have the ability to more accurately predict weather, because many people dreamed dreams and paved the way.
"Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions." Joel 2:28
As we approach this new year as a Faith Family, I feel a bit of that anticipation. The anticipation that comes from seeing what the next steps will look like and what the results will be. Some of the dreams and visions for 2022 are tried and true--more information will be gathered for future reference. Some of those dreams and visions have been just that, dreams and visions, and 2022 will be a starting block for what those dreams and visions will produce. Yet, other dreams and visions are new, at least for Oakland UMC, and tied into those may be a bit of apprehension, as well as anticipation. A piece of our work is to take what has been shared before and build on that--to use that information the best we can in our context.
Regardless how we see 2022 as we stand on its brink, we know it won't look like any other year, because we know that is not a norm. For well over a century, the Faith Family of Oakland UMC have weathered hardship, trials, hatred, love, peace, and joy. We will do the same. For over a century the Faith Family of Oakland UMC have kept traditions and planned new adventures. We will do the same. For over a century the Faith Family of Oakland UMC have been faithful to sharing a story--the story of a humble people who share their faith with those next door and those far away. The story of a Faith Family who dream dreams and see visions of how God has called them to be a gift to the community of Oakland, Iowa. Not just for this new year of 2022 we move into, but for generations yet to come. This isn't unexpected, it's been forecast!
Be blessed, be a blessing, and take someone with you on the journey! Pastor Kim