Current Domestic Disasters
A message from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
June 20, 2008
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ:
With a swiftness that we could not have imagined only weeks ago, the waters have brought chaos to a large area of the central United States. The flooding that is moving south in the Mississippi River valley follows unusually destructive tornadoes in several states and the humanitarian crisis after an immigration raid in Postville, Iowa. The scope is broad. Tornadoes have caused fatalities in 15 states, and at least 11 synods currently are involved in relief operations with ELCA Domestic Disaster Response, an unprecedented number in our history.
In the midst of these disasters, Scripture speaks to us. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult." (Psalm 46:1-3) God remains faithful. God's Spirit is at work, moving over the face of the waters to renew life and hope. This hope will not disappoint, because God's love is being poured out through the Holy Spirit.
I write to ask you to join me in prayer and action. Please pray for all who are facing adversity, including the hidden challenges that seep in after media attention leaves: the destruction of this year's crop and the productivity of cropland for years to come; the loss of homes and neighborhoods; the severing of ties from each other and histories in particular places; and the troubling emotions and thoughts that erode confidence and faith. Pray that God's Spirit sustain them in the hope of God's faithfulness, shown to us in Jesus Christ.
An ELCA Disaster Alert with information about how you can help in recovery is being sent to you as I write. Please join me in an outpouring of love that is equal not only to the depth of the waters, but even more to the fullness of Jesus' life in us and to the Spirit's renewing work in the world. We will be the Body of Christ to those who yearn for a comforting presence. We will be the gentle hands that hold those who yearn for the healing that Jesus brought. Through our service God will speak their names and hold them as a treasured possession.
"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America