Galveston sea wall memorial

This statue on the Gulf Coast at Galveston commemorates the 6,000-12,000 lives lost in the 1900 hurricane that devastated the city and remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

A few weeks ago we went on vacation to Galveston for some time at the beach. We had a great time swimming, playing in the sand and doing all the normal touristy stuff.

On our way out of town we stopped at the hurricane memorial. It’s a statue that commemorates the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900. It was a storm so severe that it is still one of the most costly storms in terms of dollars and lives (upwards of 12,000 lives were lost). Every single residence and over 98 percent of all buildings sustained damage.

The storm effectively ended Galveston’s golden age where it was known as the “Wall Street of the South.” It went, overnight, from being the center of influence and finance in the southern part of our country, to being almost completely devoid of life.

Rev. Eric Douglas

Rev. Eric Douglas is pastor of First United Methodist Church of Mineral Wells.

Despite this great loss, an overarching feeling of emptiness, the remaining people of Galveston rolled their sleeves up and got to work rebuilding their community. They constructed the current Sea Wall to help protect their community and then further redeveloped large portions of their island. Bringing life where once there was only destruction and death. In the middle of hopelessness and loss, they created something new, amazing, and life giving. In some sense there was a resurrection of the island community. In the midst of death, the people of Galveston were able to find life.

Christ reminds us of this all too well in John 2:19-22 when He speaks about raising up a temple in three days. The religious leaders are shocked, the temple they were building had taken 46 years to that point to build. How could Jesus do any different, especially if they were to knock down what they had started with at the very beginning.

What they missed was what Jesus was really talking about though. The heart of their faith and identity was a building. A thing that takes constant maintenance, upkeep and effort. Then when it’s all said and done it finally just gives out. Christ was alluding to the fact that the heart of one’s faith and identity was not the building of the temple, but their very being, their soul. This is what was holy to God and very much could be built up in three days as we were about to see in John’s Gospel with the death and resurrection of Christ.

The people of Galveston were able to find life in death because they knew that the center of their faith and identity was not the buildings that were lost or the island that was flooded, but because it was them. The very people of Galveston that were loved and cherished by God.

As we start a new school year, I want us to remember that we have the ability this year to see life in death, to plant hope in the hopeless situations, to be love where there is hate. We have a chance with this brand new year to build something of resurrection worth. My prayer is that you will seek out that life, hope, and love in this new school year.

Blessings. Pastor Eric.

Rev. Eric Douglas is pastor of First United Methodist Church of Mineral Wells.

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