Great Plains Daily Devotional for 9/14/2023: Song of Solomon 8:6

Today please be in prayer for

Racine Trinity UMC, Wisconsin Conference
Kansas City District
Kansas City Trinity UMC, Missouri Conference
Kansas City District
Managing Director of Ormond programs, Duke Divinity
Kansas City District
Associate professor, Saint Paul School of Theology
Kansas City District

Today's Lectionary Text

Song of Solomon 8:6 

“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” 

Today's Devotional

I was born and raised around the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, area. On May 31, 1889, one of the most devastating natural disasters in our nation occurred. After days of rain the South Fork Dam (owned and neglected by Andrew Carnegie and other rail and steel magnates) broke releasing a torrent of water down the mountain valley into Johnstown. Most of the city was destroyed with 1,600 homes wiped away and 2,208 people died, mostly by drowning. There were so many tragic stories. One of them is this. Vicar Alonzo Potter Miller and his family drowned as their Episcopal parsonage collapsed. The St. Mark Episcopal Church he served next door only partially collapsed.  

In the days that followed as recovery and aid began to appear in Johnstown, Clara Barton and her Red Cross volunteers arrived and set up their operations in the remains of St. Mark’s Church. It was the first Disaster Relief response by the American Red Cross in our nation. In the years that followed the St. Mark’s congregation rebuilt their church building – which has since withstood floods in 1936 and 1977. 

A few months ago, my spouse and I attended a Sunday worship at St. Mark’s. It was the first time I was in the sanctuary. When I focused on the ornate sanctuary and wonderful altar woodwork, I noticed the words written into the front of the altar: “Many waters cannot quench love.” The words brought me to tears.  

Their congregational heritage and DNA knows of disastrous floods and tragedies. But in the midst of those realities, they boldly claim waters, disasters or troubles cannot quench love. For their DNA that remembers the American Red Cross Disaster Relief operating from their devasted building in 1889, has given them courage and confidence that disasters are not the last word. 

Our world and nation have suffered many natural disasters this year. Earthquakes, wildfires, droughts/heatwaves, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. It is overwhelming news at times. But then I remember one of the great strengths of our United Methodist Church – UMCOR and local Annual Conference Disaster Relief Ministries. Their ministries indeed embody the words on the altar at St. Mark’s: “Many waters cannot quench love.” And our contributions of service and financial contributions to UMCOR and Conference Disaster Relief Ministry help make that verse so. With so many disastrous events this year, we have opportunities to make continued contributions to UMCOR and our Great Plains Disaster Relief Ministry appeals through our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Together we can continue the St. Mark’s legacy that “many waters (wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, droughts) cannot quench love.” 

-- Rick Saylor, retired clergy
Kansas City, Missouri

Prayer for Reflection

O God of us all. Natural disasters have and still occur in our world. As people following the way of Jesus, empower us to move beyond disasters as news stories. Instead, may they be opportunities for us to find ways to respond with compassion, service, contribution and love. So be it. Amen. 


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