Fires. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Floods. This summer, the United States and our neighbor Mexico have experienced a relentless onslaught of disasters with the potential of more to come. These events have led to death, injury, and property loss. The lives of hundreds of thousands have been ripped from their routines and left in a heap of destruction.
What do people make of all this? One thing I have heard is that these disasters (including the recent eclipse) are signs that the return of Jesus (the “end time”) is near. Another is that these disasters are God’s punishment of our nation because we have become morally corrupt. I highly doubt either of these explanations. With regard to the first, scripture is clear that we will not know the time of Jesus’ return (see Matthew 24). With regard to the second, I find little evidence in the story of God and God’s people that natural disasters are God’s way of punishing people.
What can followers of Christ to make of all of this? Instead of turning inward out of fear and anxiety that Jesus is coming to judge us or that God is unleashing punishment upon us, scripture directs us to remember that God has not abandoned us, but that God is alive in the midst of these disasters. Indeed, scripture leads us to see these events as reminders that we are to live as people preparing for Jesus’ kingdom to come on earth (as we pray “thy kingdom come on earth”) by living out the teachings and mission of Jesus as he taught and lived the first time he came.
So, fellow followers of Jesus the Christ, what shall we do? It appears that for now the best help we can offer those who are suffering from loss and working to recover some stability in their lives is to send money to organizations that directly help them. Money is needed to pay for hotel rooms or other temporary living quarters. Money is needed to pay for food and medicine. Money is needed to buy building materials to start the rebuilding process. Money is needed to pay for funeral expenses. Money is needed for new school books and supplies. Money is needed everywhere the wind has blown, the earth has shaken, and the water has overflowed; everywhere that homes, hospitals, schools, businesses, and jobs have been blown, washed, or crumbled away.
Lutheran Disaster Response is an organization that is very highly rated for getting the highest percentage of our contributions (usually 100%) directly to people in need.
Rev, Daniel Rift, Director, ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, says this about Lutheran Disaster Response:
As a church, we’re standing by our neighbors who are already affected, and we are ready to assist in additional locations as disaster strikes. Lutheran Disaster Response’s affiliates, companion churches, and international partners are collaborating with community leaders and government officials to respond. Please give now to support this response. Stay connected to the latest events and our response to [these] disasters through our Facebook page.
On Sunday, October 8, we will be holding our annual quilt dedication, potluck, and harvest auction Sunday. All proceeds raised will be sent to Lutheran Disaster Relief. Your help in bringing items for the auction and bidders to buy these items will directly help people suffering from these natural disasters. Please invite a friend to come to worship with you on October 8.
For your response to these disasters out of love – not fear – thank you.
Yours in Christ, Pastor Matt