8 July 2020
Shattered Illusions, Faithful journeys.
Suddenly, the all consuming Rugby world cup matches fade into a secondary role in black and red Canterbury. It was clear from the beginning that the metre high piles of liquefaction, the loss of thousands of field tiles beneath the surface of the playing grounds and that the stadium had sunk like a fallen sponge cake, would not be able to be fixed by kick off time. And there is no accommodation. Even with the legendary hospitality of the South, it is difficult to house luxury-seeking tourists where there are fragile sewerage systems, a dicey water supply and the occasional wall missing.. Yet, encouraged by the media and conditioned by TV shows where everything is possible, some people were not able to accept there are limitations to human achievement and this time the destruction is simply too great. Reality TV has a lot to answer for!.
Debra Murphy, an American blogger, comments on the breaking into the illusion of our ordered lives by the present disasters.
"The indiscriminate destruction caused by earthquakes and tsunamis messes with our sense of cosmic justice. It shatters our romantic views of nature and of divinity–the silliness we often succumb to when we credit God with a beautiful sunset or a striking cloud formation. It silences, thankfully, if only for awhile, the bad theology of Everything Happens for a Reason. (That the Japanese are the only people to have suffered a nuclear attack and are now at risk of radiation contamination is a particularly cruel irony that ought to leave us in stunned silence).
This kind of “natural” devastation also reminds us of how little control we really have in this life, despite our considerable efforts to manage, contain, and forestall the unforeseeable. We know this in personal, intimate ways–a loved one stricken with cancer, say–but we seem so willing to buy into the lie that as a collective–a nation, say–we can preempt disaster with our cleverness and moral resolve (and a few billion dollars)."
This is something that politicians, false prophets and advertisers count on. If an advertiser wants to sell anything and offers certainty of tomorrow, a community that we choose the members of, and control over the stuff that gets out of control [just look at the ads!] -Then we will buy it. The reactions of fleeing Christchurch because of Ken Ring's earthquake predictions fits this. It gives some certainty of when an earthquake will be in a situation where people are realising their impotence in a way that we are usually shielded from in our society.
Life is fragile, peace is always precarious, and the earth itself no respecter of persons or property. One gigantic wave and whole populations are destroyed and injured; one seismic shift and time itself is altered.
We exist in an interdependent web of relationships. We experienced that when the urban rescue teams flew in from all over the world - then departed to Japan together. Waves destroyed a village in Chile and inundated a hotel in Santa Cruz [Galapagos Is] as the tsunami made its way southward. What happened in Japan didn’t stay in Japan.
God calls us on a journey of faith. The future is not certain , the way is not known, we do not always have control of what will happen or who we will find our lot thrown in with - all opposite to what we desire and is counter to the dominant messages of our society. We are asked to rely on the word of God, promises rather than guarantees. But this is where life itself lies, for us and for the world. We can trust the God who makes the promises, and who promises not to leave us. We can trust Jesus who has been on this journey and faced its dangers and who walks among us, sustaining us with his renewing love. . It is a journey in which we are freed to forgive and love each other, to weep with those who are damaged and reach out to those in need. It is a journey in which we may accept help from and celebrate with those we might have simply not seen before and discover the reality of God's peace. Trust God's word, Jesus himself, and step out in faith and we may even find that we are bearers of God's blessing to the world.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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