Calamity - Monday Musing, August 30, 2021
Calamity – an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster. Last weekend’s hurricane-miss on Cape Cod returned with a vengeance this weekend. Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana as an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Our thoughts turn to those in the hurricane’s path.
There are so many calamitous things in the news: a messy American withdrawal from Afghanistan; voter integrity laws enacted in multiple states around the country to combat unfounded election fraud; a devasting earthquake overwhelms Haiti; surging COVID-19 infections with many balking at vaccination measures and mask mandates; human-induced climate change affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe – the recent IPCC report indicates it’s a “code red for humanity;” the Supreme Court overturning the current CDC eviction moratorium citing the CDC does not have authority – Congress has to take action, which is doubtful given the partisan differences and division in Washington; and downright nastiness by patrons of restaurants causing owners to be exasperated. Is there any good news lately?
Some may believe that the increasing frequency and intensity of the calamities we witness points to the impending “end times” (the eschatological period with the final events of history leading up to judgment day). During the Babylonian exile in the 6th century, the prophet Isaiah writes that according to God, God is going to help King Cyrus defeat the other nations of the world. “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus… I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.’” (45:1a, 7, NKJV). So, calamity is not a 21st century phenomenon!
Yesterday, Rev. Kathy Musser served as Guest Minister because I had been away on retreat last week (thank you Kathy!). In her message on 1 Kings 19:1-13 (a favorite passage of mine), Kathy reminded us that our church life and worship help us seek spiritual guidance, deepening our life together, and help our discernment about “what we are doing here” in our lives as disciples, in this community, and in the world. These sage words can also be used by people of faith responding to the calamities around us.
Our response? First, hear news we encounter with a heart that feels empathy and compassion; next, after compassionate empathy, pray for those who experience the greatest losses; and then give generously from our overwhelming abundance to known, reliable avenues of support where there is need. May our “be still” moments cause us to think deeply, connect us with our spiritual community, to best discern how we can respond to the events we see and hear all around us.
Yesterday’s worship ended with the hymn, Open My Eyes, That I May See. May these words resonate with you still: “Open my mouth and let me bear gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere. Open my heart and let me prepare love with thy children thus to share. Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see. Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!” See you in church!