Thursday, December 30, 2004

Where was God in this tsunami disaster?
I haven’t read Harold Kushner and wouldn’t want to go near this question with a barge-pole but Fr Michael, the University of Tasmania’s Eastern Orthodox chaplain, has a go at it:

God is in the myriad of individual acts of compassion between fellow survivors, tourists helping the bereft locals, locals helping the stranded tourists, citizens all over the world donating money ... in the prayers of a billion Christians beseeching God to comfort the bereft, to pour out His infinite mercy upon those who underwent sudden death without further opportunity for amendment of life, who had never heard the message of the Risen Christ, or who had been deceived into not receiving it. He is in the minds of those who even at this stage have responded to His inspiration to begin planning the recovery of the places and people affected. He is in the hearts of those who will be moved by this to renew their efforts to bring the saving message of Christ to the largely moslem, buddhist and hindu people who bore the brunt of the catastrophe.
He suggests:

Priest: That it may please Thee to bring into the Way of Truth all who have erred and are deceived.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to strengthen such as do stand; to comfort and help the weak hearted, to raise up them that fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to look upon and relieve the miseries of the poor and to help and comfort all who are in danger, necessity and tribulation
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to preserve all who travel, all women labouring of child, all sick persons and young children and to show Thy pity on all prisoners and captives.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to defend and provide for fatherless children, widows and all who are homeless, desolate and oppressed.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to have mercy upon all men.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to bestow on our enemies peace and love.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to maintain the good earth and all that it hath in it in pureness and health to the prosperity and good of all men.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth, and to restore and continue to us the blessings of the seas, so as in due time we may enjoy them.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.

Almighty God, the ruler of all nations and peoples, Who dost chasten us for our good and sparest us in Thy mercy; Have compassion upon all Thy creation, that being established in perfect peace by Thy power, we may use it to our healing and correction. Call to remembrance, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy loving kindnesses which have been ever of old. Let not the chastisements which Thou dost permit, to overcome us in our weaknes and ignorance. We ask this through Jesus Christ Thy only-begotten Son, Who livest and reignest with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.
Fr Michael is English and comes from a Prayer Book Sarum-style Catholic school of churchmanship.

And from onkos1:
The suggestion that the tsunami was the will of God has a very Calvinist "pre-destination" feel to it. Nature, like us, is fallen and has "free will" - the tsunami surely is a random "act" of nature. The role of God is in sustaining our faith and enabling us to bring/send aid to the many who are suffering, and to bring courage, love and acceptance to those who are bereaved. The family of my Sri Lankan wife has lost one member and one of her friends has lost two family members in the tragedy. We live in Australia, but peoples from the stricken part of the world are scattered throughout the Western World. Most of us will know someone who is affected directly or at least closely with this tragedy. Let us not blame God, Who is blameless, but call upon Him and let these mainly non-Christian nations see Christianity in its fullness, not as an ongoing enemy. Thus may good come out of tragedy.

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