Tag Archives: Hurricane Harvey

Irma_Orlando_radar

Fog Lights Through A Disaster

In recent days since Hurricane Irma wrecked much of Florida, I have been dealing on a very personal basis with that wreckage for my mother’s home was ruined by the storm.  I won’t go into those details but suffice it to say I’m learning some things along the way as I navigate this disaster.

A disaster is always personal even when it is regional  One way we naturally gauge disasters like a hurricane is by satellite images and radar or even drones that hover above the landscape and provide us a perspective of the breadth of a disaster. The depth of a disaster, however, lie at the deep level of individual lives. Their narratives are comprised of trauma, harrowing escapes and sometimes unutterable loss.

When the storm dust is in the air, use fog lights.  The first time I learned this lesson was as a child in the back seat of a car. My father was driving and we went down a hill and as we did, suddenly a storm of dust out of nowhere filled the air.  He turned on his lights so he could be seen (ever see folks ride through rain storms without headlights on? they think they can see, and perhaps they can, but we need to see you!) but my father also pointed out that persons headed our way had their bright lights on which filled the dust with light and blinded everyone.  Dim lights or fog lights are the best way to navigate one’s path through.  But of course, people turn on their bright lights and with that they turn up their volume, yelling and frantically lashing out in panic. Turn your fog lights on, turn down the volume and find the path out.

We are interdependent and rely on the kindness of strangers.  I hope the country can finally come to terms with a covenantal view of human interdependency and be done with the half-truths of libertarian and other conservative ideologies that extol the individual’s liberty at the expense of our biblically mandated obligation to care for one another.  The question is not whether or not people “deserve” our help–we all need the help of one another. Living selfishly, as the monk Thomas Merton pointed out, is living at the doorstep of hell.  My mother has now made two trips to two different hotels. This morning, as she drank her coffee in the free breakfast area of the hotel, a stranger helped her with getting some hot water and other items.  Kindness is a hand that lifts our chin. We are humanized by those kindnesses and when we are the ones offering the kindness then we are also humanized in the process.

Life is a storm.  The Buddha’s first noble truth is, life is suffering.  Christianity has at its very center the suffering (the Passion) of the Christ.  To live is to navigate storms and loss.  We all suffer.  For me, at this frantic time, I am doing my best to get to Sunday. Why? Because I know when I get to Sunday, I get to peace and communion with others, hymns of joy and prayers of sustenance.  I hope you can find an oar and paddle your way over to our safe harbor.

~See you Sunday

shelter_rain

Dignity in the midst of the storms

We pray for:

THOSE IN THE PATHWAY OF STORMS  We are especially mindful of all those who reside in Florida and Georgia and the Carolinas, the Bahamas and Caribbean who, at this moment on Friday,  seem to be in peril as Hurricane Irma makes its way closer to the United States.  And for those who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.  Christ, have mercy.

THOSE IN MEXICO  We remember especially those in the state of Oaxaca and beyond who had family and homes destroyed.  Lord, have mercy.

DREAMERS  We pray for those children who have known only the United States and came here or were born here with families who had illegally entered the country but by no fault of their own were raised here and dared to dream they could be part of the American Dream.  This administration and the Congress seems prepared to do them great harm.  May it not be so.  Christ, have mercy.

FOR ALL OF US  We who toil day by day and attempt to do better by ourselves, our families and our communities are under great stress, carrying large burdens.  May these burdens be lifted and in their place may we receive courage and strength.  Lord, have mercy.

*******

Sunday I will be asking the following questions and I hope to give some guidance in my sermon entitled, “Superman’s Cape, A Clerical Collar and Clothed in Christ”:  How are you navigating this apocalyptic landscape?  How are you making sense of your lives as you daily wade through the swamp of political rhetoric, assorted hatreds, natural catastrophes, not to mention trying to find an affordable plumber on the week-end?  How are you living between sun up and sun down?  What strategy for maintaining your human dignity and the dignity of others do you have when the power goes out and the storm is raging around you?

Join us in worship Sunday at 10 a.m. at Jefferson Middle School.  Because there in that auditorium, we embrace each other as fully human. We carry one another’s burdens and share in each other’s joys.  ~See you Sunday

chalice_salvador-237x300

Houston & Nashville: What To Do and What Not To Do In A Flood

Houston  We pray for Houston in the aftermath of this terrible storm.  The misery index is off the scales.  I have reached out to an inclusive Baptist church, Covenant Baptist, in Houston to say we are praying for them and have asked if we might offer them help in some way. They seem safe but once the rains have relented, they may get back to us.  Please pray for this sister church.

Meanwhile, I have requested that our Shepherd’s Purse offering this communion Sunday be dedicated to relief efforts in Houston.  You (we) may also want to donate through the One Great Hour of Sharing Donations that can be made through the church: either by visiting www.abc-usa.org and clicking “Give Online” at the top right of the page and then in the “Comments” section, type “OGHS-Hurricane Harvey.” Or give and designate through the church and we’ll send a  collective donation to the OGHS.  By the way, 100% of these offerings go to relief efforts, not a penny is used for administrative purposes.  I encourage you to give to the Shepherd’s Purse this Sunday and from there we will send our financial support.

Nashville  In a flood we reach out to others and help them. It matters not (or should not) that these Americans reside in a “red” state or a “blue” state—a lesson some Texas representatives and senators might have learned during the disaster of Hurricane Sandy.  Be that as it may, “Evangelicals” have convened in Nashville and issued a statement insisting upon the sinfulness of being GLBT.  When you look at the signatories of the Nashville Statement, it is overwhelmingly Southern Baptist.  It includes persons who have spent a lifetime discriminating and heaping abuse on GLBT persons and look, not only GLBT, but Southern Baptists were formed explicitly to defend slavery (Slave-owning missionaries). They repented of that just a decade or two ago.  As well, they continue to treat women as second-class citizens.  In 2008 a Professor Ware of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville was cited by Ethics Daily as suggesting that “women wouldn’t have to worry as much about spousal abuse if they were more obedient to their husbands.”  I listened to Ware’s sermon from which that summary was made and then wrote him a letter expressing my dismay and calling on him to repent from such hideous commentary. Perhaps the book of Genesis should be off limits to these scholars and pastors!  There is a pattern here with the SBC and these Evangelicals.  They are uniquely unqualified to speak with moral authority on this issue and given the many issues from climate change to war, poverty, extrajudicial executions of Black citizens and the rise of neo-Nazi and Klan members in their regions, that they would choose to “clarify” continued discrimination of GLBT persons is especially disgusting.

There will be those who issue counter statements of equal or greater length (such as the Denver Statement) but instead of pegging a statement to a city, I’d prefer to quote the Lord himself who denounced such persons when he exclaimed:  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? With that, remove the dust from your shoes and move on. The Evangelicals who signed this statement are nothing new and have nothing to say that will clarify anything. Indeed, their statement will be used to wreck families and abuse children.  By the way, one  of the signers was the CEO of Lifeway Bible Bookstores.  Need I say you should consider never buying another religious item from that store?

So we’ll send money to relief efforts in Houston. We’ll stop giving money to homophobic institutions like the Southern Baptist Convention or Lifeway bible bookstore.  We’ll pray for the thousands whose lives have been upended in Houston and we’ll pray for those whose lives have been upended by the Nashville Statement of gnat-slapping evangelicals.  And importantly, we will continue to support and celebrate our church which is a haven of peace and justice. Because, you see, in a flood we help everyone and we do not issue condemnations of people whose only crime is their existence.  ~See you Sunday