Pastor OlsenRev. Peter A. Olsen

Pastor OlsenRev. Rachel M. Zarnke

From the Pastor's Desk

October 2016

As I write this piece, a hurricane is bearing down on the little nation of Hatai. Most of the rest of the world has forgotten the 2010 earthquake that struck the island nation in 2010 leveling what little infrastructure it had, killing a staggering 300,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless. About 63,000 are estimated to be homeless still, living in tents or some other makeshift shelters. One can only imagine how they will fare when the hurricane winds and fierce rains strike. I keep them in my prayers and hope that you do the same. I also pray that God's Spirit moves us to generosity toward these people who have already suffered so much.

I suspect that the news coverage will focus on Haiti for as long as it takes to document the violence of the storm and its destructive effects. After that, the people of Haiti and the churches, government workers and volunteers who have been in the country for years will begin the slow and painstaking work of caring for those most directly afflicted and rebuilding some semblance of order. That is hardly as exciting or entertaining as Hilary Clinton's deleted e-mails or Donald Trump's undisclosed tax returns. I don't mean to say that elections are unimportant or that the issues raised therein don't matter. But I think it is fair to say that Jesus' principal concern is for the people who are off the radar, people whose suffering does not make the cut for prime time. That should be the concern of his church as well.

The good news here is that there exists an army of believers standing ready to move in and stand with the people of Haiti in the aftermath of this most recent disaster. Most of them are from the church in Haiti, but many also are members of sister churches throughout the world, including the churches of the Lutheran World Federation. Our church has been in Haiti for almost a century. Our congregations and relief agencies are already on the ground and know the terrain. You can be sure that the church, your church, the church of Jesus Christ will be in Haiti standing with its people following whatever transpires there, just as it always has been. You can be sure that will be the case even after the last vote has been counted in November and the camera has turned its metallic eye on whoever is to be inaugurated in January.

The news, you see, is not necessarily what the headlines say it is. The gospels tell us that history is made not by the campaigns of great armies or the election of leaders, but by the small, seemingly insignificant and often apparently futile works of mercy and compassion performed by people you have never heard of. Take, for example, the woman who anointed Jesus with oil at Bethany. She didn't shatter any glass ceilings or accomplish anything we would call historic or even significant as far as the gospel's plot is concerned. We don't even know her name. Yet Jesus tells us that "wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." Mark 14:9. So it has been for the last two thousand years and so it will be long after today's headlines have been forgotten.

Pastor Olsen