Resurrection hope in the midst of calamity

Curtis Shelburne

As most of our friends and parishioners know, my brothers and I, all four of us preachers, head to Robert Lee, Texas, a couple of times a year to spend some time together at the old homeplace of our maternal grandparents.

The other guys usually manage to get there, each alone, from one to a few additional times each year for study retreats, etc. I live a bit closer to Robert Lee than the others, which means, of course, that so far I have managed to get away for almost no time alone there ever. That is a shame, and it is my own fault.

Don’t get me wrong. We love the time together, but my brothers assure me that being there alone and drinking in some quiet time is worth a ton in its own right. I really enjoy the company of those miscreants, but I’ve always found myself to be excellent company by myself, too. I need to try it.

I call our biannual get-togethers the Coke County Ministry Conference. I’ve derived far more ministerial benefit from those gatherings than any actual ministry conference I’ve ever attended. We had a great time at the most recent one, even though we probably should have taken turns preaching sermons to each other warning of hell. We were there a bit later in the spring than usual; afternoon temperatures were already hovering obscenely around 100, and we were roasting. Add a little—actually, a lot—of wind to that, and it was seriously hot.

It was also dangerously dry. I didn’t see any brimstone, but the fire danger was extreme. A few days ago the chance of fire became the certainty of fire as a major wildfire threatened the towns of Robert Lee and Bronte. Some of our family there have had to leave their homes, and the guys have joined in to help try to get the blaze under control.

One report mentioned that the residents of the nursing home just across the creek from my grandparents’ old place has been evacuated. The fire has been very near Paint Creek and the picturesque little cemetery eight miles out where my parents and grandparents are buried. At last report, though the fire has burned over 100,000 acres and is only 10% contained, the two aforementioned towns are no longer in the “line of fire.”

I’ve been checking web-based weather and news outlets for late news. Oddly enough, I’m not sure if I’d say my brothers and I left Robert Lee at just the right time, or if I’d say that I’d give a good bit to be there right now. I’m sure four preachers would be invaluable fire-fighting assistance!

Earthquakes, tsunamis, fires. A guy with questionable theology and a flare for writing could make a million right now. I’m sure some will.

Sunday is Easter. Pope John Paul II spoke well when he said, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” That’s still true, even if the ground shakes and smoke is in the air. Prayer is called for, along with Resurrection hope.