Yesterday, I posted a message from Michael Welch, the pastor at Lafayette UMC, on my church web site. It was a gracious note thanking all for their desire to help with the recovery efforts following the tornadoes in that area. He also tactfully called for restraint, for in the zeal to help folks were actually creating more problems than solving.
This morning, I received the following e-mail from the Annual Conference:
Let us be in prayer for the Welch family and for each other. Life is extremely fragile and precious.
With great sadness, I write to tell you of the death of one of our Probationary Elders; Michael Welch. Michael and his family lived in Lafayette and have been helping all the people whose homes were destroyed by the tornado this week. He, his wife, Julie and two of their children – Jesse and Hannah, were in a van stopped behind a tractor-trailer when another tractor-trailer rammed them from behind. They were all killed.
I don’t know Michael, nor his family. I know nothing about the nature of his ministry. We have probably crossed paths somewhere along the way at Annual Conference, but to my knowledge we never sat and broke bread together.
But I grieve this morning. The pain that his congregation is feeling must be immense. First, God’s creation goes amuck and destroys their community. Then, human technology goes out of control, and their leader is gone. So much loss seems almost too much to bear.
Was the writer of Ecclesiastes correct in saying that all of life is meaningless?
And if not, where is the meaning in this?
Why does it seem like the good guys get taken,
while the weak one’s remain?
We don’t understand,
and we need your grace to deal with the paradox of live and death,
creation and destruction,
in which our world is rooted.
So, in the midst of our loss, we can do nothing but sing:
Farther along we’ll know all about it.
Farther along we’ll understand why.
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine,
we’ll understand it, all by and by.