Jesus Calms the Storm was the title of today’s Preschool Chapel Time. I selected that story early yesterday prior to the destructive storms that struck Oklahoma. Today I had planned to write an article on membership. It was going to be a well-thought-out theological work that talked of commitment and testimony. Then I turned on the news and was inundated with the horror of lost life and property. I have to say that when talk of third graders losing their lives began, chills and tears were the only reaction my body I could muster. The thought of sending Colin to school, and something like this happening immediately bought up a visceral response.
Having spent the morning preparing a Chapel lesson about Jesus calming the storm that was threatening the lives of the disciples, I couldn’t help but be drawn to that story. Then all night I saw news reports about the breadth of the loss in Moore. Along with that, social media was awash with concern and prayers for those affected. The thought of Jesus Calming the Storm was quickly fading. Then something happened that drew me back to the story. Two Facebook friends posted comments that struck me as the completely wrong action in times such as this. One negatively commented on a family member who was safe but subsequently ascribed “bad theology” to why they were safe. Another asked the question, “Are tornados effects of the fall or part of creation?”
As one who has served as a first responder and fire department chaplain, these questions and comments, while valid, came across as untimely. In times of tragedy it is incumbent upon us to not ask Jesus why God allows storms to threaten to swamp the boat. Rather, we need to rush to Jesus’ side and ask for the storm to subside and stillness to return. Deep questions of why a class of third graders die in a school hallway are ones we must wrestle with, but right now we need to become the body of Christ that calls out to the storm that rages. The tornado may have passed, but the lives of everyone in that area are still in the midst of a storm. Today, I want to call each of us to prayer. Prayer for stillness and peace. Perhaps even prayers for miracles. The days, months and years ahead for our brothers and sisters in Oklahoma are filled with storm clouds that won’t just pass by. Jesus encouraged his disciples to have faith in God and then took action to calm the storm. I remember more than once as a fire chaplain being in a place of ministry where words were not sufficient. In times of significant loss being the peaceful presence of Christ in the world is often the sacred response.
- Holy and loving God. Out of chaos you created order through creation. We find ourselves in the midst of chaos. We know that the pain of loss is deep for many of our brothers and sisters in Oklahoma. Even now families are waiting for word on wellbeing. We sincerely pray that in this chaotic time, we may not only personally hold onto the hope we find in Christ, but help us to embody it in the world. On behalf of those directly and indirectly affected by this disaster, we ask that you rise up and calm the storm around them. For those who have lost their lives, we pray that you usher them into your heavenly kingdom and grant them your peace. Protect all who are working to rescue and recover and bless them in their work. Finally Lord, we ask that you send your transforming Spirit upon this world so that it might experience physical and spiritual peace. AMEN