From the Bishop

I recently was unable to sleep, so I got up and found the movie "Apollo 13" on TV. I watched part of it. You probably remember that powerful film with Tom Hanks about the explosion on the Apollo 13 space flight that was intended to land on the moon. Instead, the movie and the real-life story became an adventure in trying to bring those three astronauts home safely by using the very limited resources of their lunar lander in April 1970.

I enjoy that movie and am intrigued by the differing perceptions offered at the end of the movie when there is fear that the spacecraft will not make it back to earth safely. One of the NASA team members on the ground says, "This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever faced." The NASA flight leader Gene Krantz (played by Ed Harris) relies, "With all due respect, sir, I believe this will be our finest hour." Apollo 13 makes it home, and indeed that rescue is still remembered as the finest hour in our space program and a heroic time in American history.

These days in America feel like the emergency of Apollo 13. The explosion, or perhaps I should say the implosion, of our financial markets, the stock market and our entire economy feel much like a disaster movie. Many people are hurting, and all of us are left wondering, "Will life ever get back to some sense of normalcy?" We are like those Apollo 13 astronauts trying to survive on very limited resources and to make it home.

Perhaps for us, too, this can be our finest hour. Perhaps these challenging times can bring out the best in us as human beings, as Christians and as United Methodists. Perhaps we will rally and offer our best compassion to help those in trouble. Perhaps we will increase our commitment to food banks, emergency shelters, support groups and prayer.

Most of us have never faced such challenging times. Most of us have had it easy and have been very comfortable. Most of us have taken for granted that life would be stable. Now we are being tested, and it is our opportunity to respond.

Will we? Will we step out in faith; will we encourage one another? Will we be generous in charity? Will we be steadfast in our core values?

The next few months will answer those questions. As for me, I do believe that this could be our finest hour.

Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Conference of
The United Methodist Church
"Making a Difference in Indiana and around the world"