From Hope to Promise: A Story of Transition

By Pastor Sheri Lodel, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Dannebrog

March 13, 2019 – A week after Ash Wednesday.  River flood water quickly rose as people scrambled to set sandbags along businesses and homes of Dannebrog, Nebraska.  The path it took was from south to north in Dannebrog: first the cemetery, then homes, the Lutheran church, post office, bakery, bar and grill, the bank and grocery store.  By Thursday morning it looked like the river had come to claim most of the town. Yet by afternoon, it started to recede.  This is when the shock of grief hit.  Years of stuff for memory were all destroyed and had to be cleared out from basements.  It was a collective process of letting go of the past.  There was no choice. The river changed course, so must we.

The danger had passed, grief struck, but hope grew just as quickly.  History and memory are with us always in conversation with others.  This is a lesson learned.  We were not alone for the Nebraska Synod office reached out immediately.  A sister church, St. Marks Lutheran of St. Paul, Nebraska came over to Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church to help clear and gut the basement.  The church basement wall had collapsed.  So unable to worship on Sunday inside, we worshiped curbside.

Our Saviour’s Lutheran church had to decide as a congregation what was to be done.  Several ideas came to surface, but it was clear that God held a promise for us.  It was decided not to restore the basement to what it was, not to walk away but to keep the basement so those without shelter in a tornado or high wind storm would find their safety. The whole Nebraska Synod of the ELCA made this all possible.  The promise holds true.

A celebration of basement restoration was held in May 2022 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church.  Then on July 16th, the promise came to be.  Sirens sounded and people of Dannebrog without shelter took safety in the basement of the church building.  We are people changed by times of transition, neighborly and generous still.  We are, also, people of hope as children of God.  All are baptized into this promise that God is with us – has been, is now and forever shall be.  Live in hope and be held in God’s promise.