Friday, 14 October 2011

Meditation on Victims of Goderich Tornado

Psalm 77

1 I will cry aloud to God; *
I will cry aloud, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; *
my hands were stretched out by night and did not tire;
I refused to be comforted.
3 I think of God, I am restless, *
I ponder, and my spirit faints.
4 You will not let my eyelids close; *
I am troubled and I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old; *
I remember the years long past;
6 I commune with my heart in the night; *
I ponder and search my mind.
7 Will the Lord cast me off for ever? *
will he no more show his favour?
8 Has his loving-kindness come to an end for ever? *
has his promise failed for evermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? *
has he, in his anger, withheld his compassion?
10 And I said, ”My grief is this: *
the right hand of the Most High has lost its power.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord, *
and call to mind your wonders of old time.
12 I will meditate on all your acts *
and ponder your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy; *
who is so great a god as our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders *
and have declared your power among the peoples.

When I heard of the destruction in Goderich I was on vacation in the eastern Canada.  I checked information on line and saw pictures of the destruction and devastation that had been caused by the Tornado.  I was shaken by the might of nature which can be released with little or no warning and how fragile are the works of human hands in the face of such power.  It is always humbling when I experience this and I am always thankful that such events are rare in my experience.

My next thoughts were of the wonderful old church which had been severely damaged by the tornado and I was afraid that it was the Anglican Church that I had a connect to.  St. George’s Goderich is the Parish of a classmate and I had attended his ordination at that church and had been a guest preacher there on another occasion.  I wondered how I would deal with St. James Parkhill being destroyed and could not imagine all that would be required to deal with such an event.  

I had a great sense of relief when I heard that it was not the St. George’s but the United Church.  This reaction was mixed with a sense of guilt at feeling relief at the expense of others.  Perhaps this is a small experience of survivors guilt that people who have survived when those around them have perished or been severely injured. 

It is also a reflection of human nature in which it is much easier to respond to a request for help for someone or something which we have a connection to.  If we see and recognize the face of the one in distress we are more ready to respond with compassion and generosity than if it is some faceless person in some land we have hardly even heard of.

And yet we are called as Christians to respond to those in need – not just those who are friends and neighbours but to those who we do not see as our neighbours.  This of course if the challenge that Jesus gave to the lawyer who asked who is my neighbour?  The response was the example shown by not the priest or the Levite but the example shown by the despised Samaritan. 
Our neighbours are not just the Anglicans in Goderich or Roman Catholics or Presbyterians or United Church members or even Christians but all who are affected by disasters and other afflictions.  They are not just whose in Goderich  - although today they are particularly our neighbours - but all who are in need whether they show us a face that reflects ours and is cute and sympathetic or looks strange and unappealing.  Jesus has shown us that all the world is our neighbour and we are to love our neighbours as ourselves.  Let us pray

Oh, God Heavenly Father and Lover of All

In faith we acknowledge your care for all you creation; your sons, daughters and children. In hope we trust in your divine providence of giving us wisdom and courage as we face the challenges in life. In love we invoke your help and guidance during these difficult days of death and destruction in Goderich and all places where natural disasters wreaked havoc.

Our is a prayer of thanksgiving for once again reminding us that ours is an imperfect world, that heaven is not on earth and that nature tells us once again that we are not in control.  Ours too is a prayer of repentance for calling upon you when we are in need and desperation but forgetting you in favourable times and pleasing occasions. Ours as well is a prayer of petition as we say:

Grant eternal peace to those who lost their lives. Help those who are injured and heal those who are sick in body mind or soul.

Encourage those who suffer the destruction of their homes and properties, and to once again arise and rebuild their future.

Bless all those who extend their helping hands to those in need of food, shelter and clothing, who share their time, talents and resources with others.

Inspire more people to be neighbours to all in need, convinced that the more they are for others, the more they are for you.

Spare us from other natural disasters and devastations if this be according to Your will and for our own spiritual good.


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