Every year seems to bring with it some kind of terrible natural disaster, and we will surely mark 2017 as a banner year, especially with the two recent hurricanes in such close proximity to one another and at the time of my writing, the threat of another looming off our Atlantic coast. Throughout most of human history, people have seen such disasters as acts of God.
Today, we understand the processes and effects of the created order which work to allow our planet to regulate itself and support life. When human beings get caught in these giant forces of nature, there is death and devastation, but the forces themselves are essential to life in general on Earth. Knowing that we live on a planet where nature can swell with hurricanes, floods and other events, we adapt through engineering or avoiding areas prone to the effects.
But still, when tragedy strikes, it is common for us to ask why. We turn to our faith and answers don’t always come easily, though we recall our Lord saying that God sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. The good news we proclaim is that God is with us through it all; and through Christ, it is in our response to suffering that God is found. Ranging from moments of everyday grace and in grand sweeping gestures of incarnation with the suffering, God’s mighty works are found in our actions and words.
We, as disciples of Christ, are the extension of God’s presence in the midst of tragedy as we come alongside those who are suffering in ways we often can scarcely comprehend. But, we are the agents of Jesus, helping restore order, hope, and peace in people’s lives and communities. We are to be ambassadors of the day of resurrection to come, as we seek to help rebuild and renew in whatever ways we can.
In our congregation at Mt. Zion UMC, we join with our sister churches in the United Methodist connection in the ministry of Christ we share with others. Collecting and sending relief supplies, supporting food banks, building and repairing homes, visiting those who are homebound or sick, and in many other ways we give witness to the love and provision of God. I stand in awe and proud of the people of Mt. Zion UMC who are these faithful servants. We may not always understand why things happen, but as we embrace the ministries Jesus calls us too, such as caring, renewal, and helping, God’s mighty works are revealed.
Image: Hurricane Irma as seen on Sept. 8. Source: NASA (https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/geocolor-image-of-hurricane-irma)