12 September 2005

Katrina, Naomi, and the Saints

Well, I suppose that it is inevitable that I eventually talk about Hurricane Katrina in this blog. It is inevitable for several reasons. First, one of the initial reasons I thought about creating this blog was to process my reaction to Katrina. Another is that it is the pivotal event in current affairs right now. Pretty hard to avoid references to Katrina these days.

But first, a little aside. I have been downloading and listening to sermons these days. I listen in the car when I am driving around town, or going on a long drive. I went on a long drive last week to a nearby city and back. Along the way, I listened to a sermon by a pastor in Tallahassee about the last part of the book of Ruth. One of the points in the sermon was that God uses events to bring about his will. In Ruth, God used a famine to His own ends. As a result of the famine, Elimilech and Naomi went to Moab with their two sons. While there, Elimilech and the two sons all died. Naomi wound up a bitter woman, and returned to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Through providence, God brought Ruth and Boaz together, they married, and had a son, Obed. Now Obed was not just any man from Bethlehem; he was the grandfather of David, yes that David, the future King. It goes on of course, that David is the ancestor of the Messiah. So God used the famine to bring about the eventual salvation of mankind.

All of this got me thinking about Katrina. The sermon mentioned Katrina in passing, because it was given as Katrina sat in the Gulf of Mexico, bearing down on New Orleans. But, my thoughts went to what God might be doing through Katrina. I don't think I have any definitive answer. It was generations before the implications of the ancient famine in the time of the Judges was finally fulfilled. However, some ideas have come to me over the last few days.

First, it seems that the Saints (no not the football team) are being focused into acts of compassion and mercy. A small church from New Orleans has gotten some press about their evacuation from central New Orleans in the shadow of the Superdome to a retirement village in Arkansas. Their accounts of the hospitality of the church that is hosting them, and the overwhelming shipments of clothes and other supplies from strangers around the country. They have had to ask that people not send clothes without first talking to them, as they have run out of room.

Also, I think that God's people are learning more about His power and grace. Witness the letters of a pastor in Coventry, LA. He has seen that simply asking and believing is sometimes enough. After the hurricane, many of their needs have been met in ways that are more than mere coincidence and helpfulness. Their church's vision has been replaced by a new vision and a new opportunity to reach out and help and minister. It is truly powerful stuff.

So what do I do, where I live in Central Florida? What do you do, if you read this, where ever you live? First, I pray. There are many needs, and many things to pray for. Second, I give. I haven't given much, but I have given what I can. One source suggests gift cards at Walmart or similar stores, so that is one thing I have done. Finally, I am looking for ways to act. My hope is to go to the affected areas when I can so that I can put sweat equity into helping with the recovery and showing God's love, grace, and compassion to those that are hurting.

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