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Published on January 8th, 2014 | by ABCUSA

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Emerge 2014: Why Orlando?

The reflection below was written by Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran, Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains and member of the planning team for Emerge, meeting in Orlando, Florida, from January 6-9, 2014.

I am writing this from the Emerge Minister’s Conference in Orlando, Florida. Emerge is a dual-purpose conference designed on the one hand as a time of retreat and continuing education for Pastors and professional clergy  and also, as an orientation event for ABC seminarians and new pastors.  It is a great event and I have always enjoyed participating in them in the past, in part because it is in Orlando.  It is a privilege for me to have served on the planning team.

We hold the conferences in Orlando for a number of reasons.  One of those is that because of certain theme parks and other tourist attractions, non-stop flights to Orlando are widely available at decent prices.  In other words travel to Orlando is relatively easy, but not this year.  This year, because of the major storm that impacted most of the nation travel to Orlando has been difficult.  Flights have been canceled either because of closed airports or because planes are not rated to fly in the record cold temperatures.  As a result of this, people are arriving late, luggage and passengers are being separated and some of our folks have flat decided they just cannot make it.

We also choose Orlando because it offers those of us in colder climates a respite from long winters and frigid temperatures, but not this year.  When I walked to breakfast this morning I felt right at home… the temperature was just above freezing.  Granted, it is supposed to warm up the next couple of days, but today anyway a swim in one of the three pools seems unlikely during our free time!

So what do we make of all of this?  Do we groan and complain how unfair it is?  Or do we look at instead as a reminder that as the created, our best laid plans are always subject to the plans and the directions of the Creator.  Maybe we take this wonderful cold weather in Florida as a sign that there is God in heaven and even in the midst of the unexpected, because we are still able to get things done by the grace of the One who loved us enough to send the Son.   I hope that this is the attitude I can maintain in the days ahead.

Prayer:  Good and gracious Creator, thank you for reminding us that our plans are always subordinate to yours.  Thank you for the gift of dramatic cold fronts and for snow and wind.  But thank you even more for protecting and providing for us in the times when we endure these storms. Amen.  

Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran
Executive Minister, ABCRM


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