Lord God we gather to worship you – creator and sustainer of all that is.
You are the one who spoke light into being – piercing the darkness with hope.
You are the one who raised dry land from the watery depths – setting boundaries for the waves.
You are the one who rooted plants and trees – producing fruit, nuts and shade for all your creatures.
You are the one who fashioned humanity in your image – breathing your breath into our being.
Yet this past week our breath has been taken away as we have witnessed the waters break their boundaries – overrun the land you raised up – dislodging everything in its path – uprooting trees as if they were toothpicks – knocking over houses and buildings as if they were dominoes – sweeping boats in-land and driving vehicles out to sea.
Lord God to watch all of it live on TV, computers or even on our phones, seemed to make it less real. It was like a science fiction movie and yet it was real people being chased by the watery serpent and not Hollywood actors – ordinary people going about ordinary things who were being swallowed up.
And here is our confession Lord – we struggled to feel their pain and hold their trauma for any meaningful length of time. What for us can be little more than a passing news item, is for them a life scaring event. Their lives will forever be marked with the trauma of these last few days.
Lord for some of us there was a relishing fascination towards the destruction we saw. Not able to tear our eyes away – wondering (even hoping?) for something bigger to fall prey to the raging seas. Still others of us had a calm ability to change channels between news broadcasts and the rugby or cricket. Oh Lord and you know that too few of us were moved to our knees in prayerful solidarity. Sometimes it is because we feel tiny in the face of it all – but sometimes it is apathy. Sometimes tragedy like this calls us out of our minute worlds of self-concern while at other times it does not….may this be a time when we are.
And Lord if we have lashed out at you with doubting and questioning tongues – know that it is because we are afraid – we are afraid when chaos seems to reign because we wonder what has happened to you – to your love and to your power. Receive our challenges to your integrity with mercy – see them as our desire to find you in all of what we experience – especially in what we do not understand and cannot control. Forgive those of us who have suggested that this tragedy is to be understood as your selected punishment and move us to see the compassion of your heart that weeps when people anywhere and everywhere weep.
Now Lord from this deathly event that you did not cause we ask that you use to bring forth life. Use it in ways to further your loving purpose in the world and in our lives.
Give to each of us an enlarged appreciation for life.
Give us an ability to hold our own struggles in comparative perspective.
Give us renewed commitments to what matters to you.
Help us to hold our possessions – our houses, cars, telephones and shoes more loosely and our money more generously.
Convict us to care for this planet and to repent of our ongoing abuse and callousness towards your creation.
Move us to pray for those who grieve and suffer and open us to find your home among the suffering that we may be set free once again to praise you. Amen