Five days ago, the focus of the heavy rains and storms in Tennessee was Memphis. Since then, Nashville and the surrounding Cumberland River valley have had flooding that caused loss of life and widespread property damage. While there's been a focus in the general press on the damage caused to some country music landmarks in Nashville and homes of some country music stars, some of the less affluent parts of Nashville were hit hard. The Diocese of Tennessee reports on damage to church property and deaths and injuries to people associated with the diocese. News about Episcopal Relief and Development's relief efforts in Tennessee is available here; there is a link on that page for people wishing to donate to the relief effort, or you can click on the red button above to donate.
Climate scientists expect more extreme weather events as the Earth's overall temperature warms. Relief organizations and governments will have heavy demands if these predictions are accurate; one thing the church might do around the climate change issue is to figure out how to increase our abilities to respond to human needs, both material and spiritual, in times of disaster.
Meanwhile, we have been learning to wrap our minds around the size of the disaster in the Gulf, even as today sees another attempt to manage the situation, this time with a giant container placed over the source of the leak -- or gush -- that would make it possible to remove some of the oil before it spread into the surrounding water. A quick check of this afternoon's headlines tells us that the top executive of BP says he doesn't count on this working. Evidently this is something worth trying, but we won't know for a few days whether it will work. Meanwhile, the oil keeps gushing, and another story says that people who live along the Gulf coast are buying and eating as much seafood as they can right now because they don't know when they will be able to buy it again. It's like spending as much time as possible right now with a terminally ill friend because you don't know if she will be around next week.
Where is God in this? Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said on Monday that the oil spill is "an act of God"; that's one sort of possible answer. We Episcopalians usually see God as a source of strength and comfort, a light in the darkness, in difficult times; the idea of God as the instigator of a major disaster involving an oil rig is foreign to most of us. God is a source of strength to the victims of disasters -- the people who live along the Gulf coast, the victims of the floods in Tennessee, all the people around the world whose lives are forever changed by pollution, flooding, melting glaciers that serve as water sources, and rising sea levels -- and a source of strength to those who are directly assisting the victims of disasters and those who are working for a healthier environment. God created the world and said it was good; our job is to help repair our broken world and join God in rejoicing in the wonder of creation.
A friend sent a link to this YouTube video featuring Casting Crowns singing Praise You in this Storm. He said my Sunday post reminded him of the song; the song had been in the back of my mind as I wrote the post. It's a good reminder of where God is in all sorts of storms.