Our suffering in this life may be unspeakable; we may feel ourselves to be completely isolated and alone, but in truth God is with us. Not … assuaging or canceling the pain, but inhabiting it – and thereby transforming it.
-Deborah Smith Douglas, 21st century
Dear Members and Friends,
We have survived! It may be a little difficult to fully embrace and celebrate that truth today, but Hurricane Irma has come and gone and we are still standing, as are most of our homes and buildings. And most importantly, we are all physically okay, even if a little sleep deprived, hot and bothered without our electric power and thus our air conditioning and cold drinks.
None of this is meant to diminish the discomfort, the disruption in our lives, and even the terror of the 24+ hours of winds howling outside our fortresses of protection. I have heard from many for whom this storm brought back horrible memories of Hurricane Andrew and others who have never endured any hurricane and for whom this was a terribly unsettling experience.
But as the pictures shared below demonstrate, we have survived and perhaps we have a better sense of God’s presence with us, even in the midst of the worst storms that life can throw at us. As Deborah Smith Douglas reminds us, our suffering may be horrible and we may feel totally alone, but God is always with us. God does not cancel the suffering but inhabits it. That is the truth of the suffering of Jesus. In Jesus, God suffered the worse that humanity could do to another human being, and God forgave and God still loves. God did not run from that suffering and God never runs from any suffering or storm. God is always with us to face it and endure it and ultimately to triumph over it.
Irma has come and gone, but we are still here. And God is still here. Your church is still here. If you have any need – physical help, help cleaning up, financial help, help dealing with insurance or contractors or whatever – contact me or one of the other church leaders and we will triumph over the destruction of Irma and we will survive, with God at our side! (My number is, 305-804-7077.)
The church property has survived in good shape. The buildings, roofs, and windows are all in good shape. There is no evidence of storm surge or other water intrusion into any of the buildings. Our primary damage is tree damage, and even that is mostly some down branches, but not entire trees, except in a few instances. I will be reaching out to those of you who can to come and help clean up the property later in the week in preparation for our re-gathering as a congregation on Sunday, September 17 for a celebration of our continued life as a community of faith.
R. Steven Hudder
Pastor, Christ Congregational United Church of Christ
Palmetto Bay, Florida