Despite my last blog post addressing the devastation of hurricane winds and flooding, my intent is not make it my overarching blog theme.  Nonetheless, there have been more hurricanes since and other events that left us stricken with woe.  I have been reflecting on many such events that transpired on my journey to becoming your pastor at Mt. Zion and being reminded that these things are part of the journey we continue to travel together. 
 
In 2005, though I was already serving as a church pastor, one of the loose ends I needed to tie up was to retire from the Army Reserve.  I was serving as an instructor for an Army staff school and after I graduated my last class, I had one more weekend of duty.  My last official act was ironically standing in as a chaplain for a change of command ceremony in August 2005.  It is ironic because I was not a chaplain, I was a Field Artillery officer; and in fact, when I inquired about becoming a chaplain, I was told I was “too old.”  Yet, there was no chaplain available that day, and knowing I was a Methodist minister, my commander asked me to fill in.  
 

I was part of a large Training Command that spanned the Southeast including the Gulf coast as far as New Orleans.  As we were standing in formation at Fort Jackson, SC, Hurricane Katrina was gathering to make landfall, and I was aware we had soldiers who would begin driving home late that afternoon, heading toward Biloxi and beyond, on into Louisiana.   
 
As I prayed appropriate words in the change of command ceremony with blessings upon the leadership of the new commander, I began to pray for those whom we all knew would be heading toward the path of the storm – not knowing for certain how it all would play out for their families and homes and loved ones and businesses.
 
And then, in the days ahead, we all saw what happened on the news.  I thought about my colleagues as the countless videos and photographs came streaming through the media.

The image of one photograph remains etched in my mind.  The photo shows the devastation of a cemetery in the historic district of New Orleans, with trees toppled, debris covering the ground, and several burial vaults broken to pieces, exposing their contents. 

But, there in the photograph - in the middle of the devastation, untouched by the storm, stands a statue of the risen Christ, arms extended wide, seemingly offering a benediction of calm amid the chaos:  “Peace!  Be Still!” is the command from our Lord.  Yet, as Jesus utters the command, it is not just a command for the wind and the waves, but a command for the benefit of his followers.
 
“Peace!, Be Still!” is the command and the reality He extends over the chaos of our lives amid the storms of the world in which we live.  In the familiar scene from Matthew 4, in the boat with the disciples among the wind and the waves, the Lord of all Creation brings his sovereign Divine power to bear over the mighty forces of nature with just a word, to bring peace … and so, how much more in our lives, when we submit to the power of God’s Word – the One who says to us, “Peace!  Be Still!.”  … May it be so … Amen.
 
Pastor Harden
Photo depicting a statue of Christ behind St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans from varleypix.com