Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A note about the Oklahoma devastation

Insurance companies will be calling this tornado an "act of God."

I know what they mean. But whereas they are referring to the destruction wrought by the storm, I see this event as the loci of what we can call "acts of God." Plural. I expect to see God show up in many different ways. And we should not be surprised to hear again and again people witnessing to the presence of God in the hour of their despair.

I not only expect God to show up, I expect people to show up. That is, I expect to see the best in the human spirit rise and experience its finest hour. We will see neighbors assisting neighbors, strangers helping each other. We will see unsolicited donations pour in from all over the world. This tragedy, as with other tragedies, will act as a mirror in which we see humanity rising to express their "imago dei" human-ness. Humans as God intended us to be. That's always heart-warming to witness.

I expect to see communities show up and stand up on behalf of the victims of this storm.

I expect to see people's view of what's important in life to experience a seismic shift because of this quick macro-burst of energy that left scores dead.

I expect to see people in each other's arms crying together and holding each other up.

I expect many people will re-discover their faith and decide that they no longer can live a life without God. There may be some who will shake their fist in the face of God and walk away. Many more, in my view, will take a journey from fear to faith, and find a renewed strength to face the world.

These are just a few thoughts about what I expect to see emerging in the southern Midwest area of the U.S. and particularly Oklahoma and Oklahoma city. What about our local church? What do we expect to see this week? Do we expect to see God? And if so, how? Do we expect to see people rising to be the persons God created them to be? Will we see our community coming together to support the needy, or to uphold justice? Will we see friends weeping with friends, strangers helping each other? Perhaps.

An appropriate prayer for those affected by this Oklahoma disaster is Psalm 46. We close with these words.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

God bless you this Sunday as you proclaim the good news.

Timothy Merrill

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