Monday, September 26, 2005

Move Us Beyong Repair to Restoration - Reflecting on the Gulf Coast Disaster

The following is from Prayerful Reflections and Faithful Responses to the Gulf Coast Disaster, a free resource prepared by JustFaith Ministries. JustFaith offers gives permission to parishes to reprint this. Please simply acknowledge JustFaith Ministries in your reprint.

“Then the Lord was stirred with concern for the land and compassion for the people…” (Joel 2:18)

A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah (54:8 - 55:3)

“But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says your redeemer. This is for me like the days of Noah, when I swore the waters of Noah should never again deluge the earth. So I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you.

How has the hurricane’s aftermath affected your faith in God, your trust in civic authorities, and your assumptions about people? What has this catastrophe shown us about the infrastructure of our national society, our values, priorities, strengths, and weaknesses?

Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you, nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says your God, who has mercy on you.

What did this natural disaster teach us about our relationship to nature, to God, to those who are poor, to our government and to one another? Who bore the brunt of this disaster, and how should the responsibilities for relief, restoration and repair be shouldered and shared?

O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled I lay your pavements in carnelians and your foundations in sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies and your gates of jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.

What new possibilities and golden opportunities have been brought to light by this catastrophe? What needs to change, and in what ways do we need to be changed, in order to become a more just nation?

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be your children’s peace. In justice shall you be established, far from the fear of oppression where destruction cannot come near you.

Who are the prophetic voices that speak up for the common good, speak out for those who are most afflicted, and speak hard truths to those in power? What will it take for us, for our church, for this nation to avoid simply returning to business as usual?

All you who are thirsty come to the water. You who have no money come, receive grain and eat! Come without paying and without cost drink wine and milk.
Why spend your money on what is not bread your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me and you shall eat well. You shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully listen, that you may have life.”

What questions, suggestions and actions surfaced in prayer, at table, from your JustFaith group? Which directions will you pursue to change hearts and structures so that God’s people are not left behind and the primacy, sanctity and dignity of life are restored?