There are lots of lists on Facebook this morning. Lists of how to prepare and things to pack, some of which will kill you about three days into a water shortage, so be sensible. There are prayers too, mostly asking God to move the hurricane away from us, whoever the “us” is. I am never sure of the logic of this sort of prayer? Is God just not listening to the community that gets decimated or are they just not praying hard enough?

We have just watched a major city ravaged by flood water. The damage in Houston from Hurricane Harvey is beyond my comprehension. I want to cry when I think about it. A category 5 hurricane hitting a Caribbean Island is also too hard to hold in my head for too long, and so I move on. So if I cannot even think about it, how can I pray about it?

Jesus tells us that the two most important things are loving God and loving neighbor. Let’s start there. When a major catastrophe happens what does loving God look like?

  1. It looks like God loving us a whole lot more that we can love back
  2. It looks like God loving every single person who is hurt or afraid or broken.
  3. It looks like accepting the fact that being human means that sometimes things hurt and scare and threaten to break us. Christianity is not a magic potion.

When we pray we can offer our fear to God, we can tell God that we really hope we are not affected by this hurricane, that we really want to stay safe. All of that is OK, but then, after this,  the real work of prayer begins. After we have unloaded all our words, our fears, our hopes, we remain watchful and waiting, we ask God to allow us to see the world through God’s eyes.

This brings us onto the second part of Jesus command, loving neighbor as self. What does that mean?

  1. When we start thinking about neighbors we start looking beyond ourselves. If we worry about people first, suddenly the “stuff” becomes less important.
  2. We might change the way we are praying. A “best for all” might not be a “best for me”.
  3. We might change the way we are helping. Helping does not always have to feel good and often involves trusting someone else to see the end product.

So my prayer is this. That God will help me to contain my grief and pain at the suffering I am witnessing so that I am not disabled by it. That God will calm my fear and anxiety at the unknown. That God will grant me grace and peace in whatever lies ahead.  That God will give me strength to act when I can and wisdom to know that ceaseless movement is not what I am called to. That God will point my path to those to whom I can be of most help. That God will remind me, constantly, to trust. To trust that loving God and loving my neighbor is the call of Christ and that in that call is my confidence and my strength.

Blessings and peace for all that lies in your path this week. Stay safe, be sensible and be passionately in love with God in all that you do.