On February 23, a group of us from the church took a little excursion to South Dade County. It was fun just to get out of our county and go see something different. Many in the group had not been to the Everglades National Park, and so it was truly novel for a lot of us. Some had been to the Anhinga Trail, but none of them had been to the Nike Missile Site, so it proved great fun for me to show people new things. We then got to see a ministry of the United Methodist Church in Florida City, an after-school program for migrant and poor children there. That ministry, called Branches, has been supported by our church in the past, and continues to do wonderful work with now another generation of kids. They’ve been at it since Hurricane Andrew (1992), and so they are seeing the children’s children now.
A couple of impressions. One was related to that generational thing. Generational poverty is an issue in our country that needs continued attention. Particularly in the educational arena, how we offer good schools to poor children continues to befuddle us. But here at Branches, the director Kim King-Torres, sees the kids that are coming through now as more hopeful than the ones that came through 30 years ago. Maybe the hurricane had something to do with it, but maybe it has to do with the feelings of the parents, and where they are compared to their parents. The idea that through Branches, and the church, and of course other ministries, one generation is improving over the other is a wonderful thing.
Conversely, while it was very interesting to see an actual missile, and to hear about the realities of the military back in the early sixties (like – for two years the soldiers who staffed that site lived in tents in Florida City and would truck out to the Everglades. Can you imagine 2 years in a MASH tent in South Florida? The mosquitoes back then were the size of Anhingas today (just kidding, but there were a LOT of them)). The tales about how close we came to nuclear war with Russia (what?) 60 years ago were a little disconcerting with the news about their invasion of Ukraine ringing in our ears now. Have we progressed? The guidance systems that direct missiles have gotten a lot more sophisticated in the last 60 years, but the moral guidance does not seem to have kept pace.
Lent is a season that invites us to be introspective. And humble. The penitent feel of the season leads us to the acceptance of the freedom, and the new way of thinking, that Jesus’ death and resurrection brought. Love, expressed in sacrifice, changed history. Love needs to do it again. I’m writing this a whole week before it will be read. I’m praying that something will have changed even in those days. God is still in the miracle-making business!
Praying for peace,
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14