By now, many of you have been overwhelmed by photos and stories of destruction in the Philippines. It's not just the images that are disturbing but the idea of so many human lives hanging in the balance. At times like these, even as people of faith, we have far more questions than answers. We can try to come up with explanations but they usually come off as trite, lame, insensitive, and unhelpful. I think that the most helpful responses right now are compassion, prayer, honesty (about what we don't understand) and lament. Perhaps the most well known story of human suffering in Scripture is found in the book of Job. Notice in Job that the ones who think they have all the answers (Job's friends) are the ones who get it wrong. Even when God appears to Job in a whirlwind, it is not to give answers but to honor Job's questions and to restore His relationship with Job. We will not have all of the answers on this side of eternity. What we do have is a God who suffers with us and continues to work through us to bring transformation, hope, healing, and, of course, a glimpse of the kingdom to come. I encourage your donations to Lutheran World Relief and American Red Cross.
The Gospel lesson that will be studied Thursday at lunch and proclaimed this weekend in worship is Luke 21:5-19 , a text where Jesus and Luke seem to be addressing the disasters of their time. Here are some questions to reflect upon as we engage these texts together.
1. Have you or a family member ever experienced an earthquake, hurricane, or other natural disaster? What was that like?
2. Like the temple in biblical times, what buildings speak to power, influence, and success in our time? How? Why?
3. While we might not be facing persecution in the U.S., do you think that the Christian faith is suffering in our nation? How? Why?
4. Why do you think that Jesus is giving this warning and promise in this text?
5. Why do you think that it was important for Luke to capture this message for his readers?
6. What is the good news on this text? (not easy to find, I know!)
Thank you for your faithfulness, your generosity, and your prayers through the highs and lows of our lives. I am so grateful for this faith community who serves as a beacon of hope in a sea of challenge and change.
See you in church!