A number of years ago the United Church of Christ focused an add campaign around the phrase "God Is Still Speaking." It is a line from the vaudeville act of George Burns and Gracie Allen. George would attempt to end a conversation with a declarative statement but Gracie was not done and implied that God was not done either, "George," she'd say, "don't put a period where God has placed a comma."
The disaster that has struck the Souris River Basin has left great damage to property and to individual lives. Damage that will take years to mend but both the land and hearts will have scar tissue for a long time. Many people have been overwhelmed by the depth and breath of their loss and have wondered if starting over is worth it. They have wondered where to start, especially those who do not have the funds to finish the repair. Neighbors and friends have also wondered if helping someone who can only get back half a house is worth it. They ask, "Are we wasting time and resources on someone and something that will fail?" It is a good question but it assumes that the only help available is theirs thus starting something that cannot be finished is fool-hearty. Neither they nor you or I have the last word. We are called to start.
Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was killed for his faith, was asked what was it that allowed him to keep going when he saw so little results and faced overwhelming opposition. He said that he saw his role "as a starter and God as the finisher." He said we are to be the "yeast for bread yet unbaked," we are to be "the beginning so God's grace can enter along the way."
Rev. Frank Picard
He said, "We plant seeds that will grow another day, we water seeds someone else has planted" and "we lay foundations that someone will build on."
Faith is about stepping out and starting something grand and trusting that the last word is not ours. Faith is not about having to see the finish line but rather intentionally leaving room for God's grace to flourish.
We do not need to see the end results to trust that God still has a word or two to utter; we don't need to see the finished product to know that God still has more light to reveal and more grace to pour forth.
Reflections, a mini-sermon written by Minot and area clergy, will appear each Saturday in The Minot Daily News. Clergy interested in writing a mini-sermon should contact Religion Editor Loretta Johnson at 857-1952 or Debbie Sandvold at 857-1950. The toll-free number is 1-800-735-3229.
George, Gracie was right, "don't put a period where God placed a comma," for "God is still speaking."
Rev. Frank Picard is pastor of United Congregational Church of Christ, in Minot, and of Hope Congregational Church, in Granville.