Situation: Katrina hits Gulf and Remembering 9/11
the Fury and Finally Forgiveness
s a kid I recall a line drawing in “My Weekly Reader” of the city of New Orleans being under sea level and dependant upon a levee to keep the angry sea out. It was part of a story about Holland also situated below sea level. The story alluded to the famous legend about “The Little Dutch Boy” who saw a leak in the dyke and stuck his thumb in the hole until workers finally came and plugged up the hole.
The fault for the flooding of New Orleans may lie with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. An official was quoted in the L.A. Times; “Everyone knew how vulnerable New Orleans was. But you don't truly consider these things until it happens. That's reality.” If that is their reality they must have missed the line drawing in “My Weekly Reader.”
Who would build a city in the sandy Mississippi River Delta anyway? God's natural order of things has to clean out those meandering and changing channels ever so often. “A wise person builds their house upon a rock.” (Matt. 7:25)
The Fury is a reality and it will happen! Theologians, if not engineers, know that we have to adapt to the natural order of God's creation. Folks everywhere are pulling their hair out because of what we are calling “Global Warming.” It will occur just like it always has in a natural 400 year cycle of cooling and warming. We could cut out all pollution and the earth would still gradually warm as a way of flushing out the earth's ice caps. We will have to adapt. And, we will have to consider these things before they happen, or our great grandchildren's children will adapt to the consequences.
Another thing: As much as some of the mayors, governors and other government officials, want to blame or credit God, this flooding was simply a “natural disaster.” We could have prevented the levees from breaking if we had not depended on a100 year old construction. Some have implied that the Almighty was bringing judgment upon “ Sin City ,” but it's not so. Sure, legalized casinos, public nudity, Mardi Gras and Voodoo have turned parts of New Orleans into an evil place, but the cause is that the 100 year old inadequate levees failed.
Of course, great good can come out of bad situations. Most of us can attest that we have been made stronger because of the adversity and pain we have triumphed over. All of the great people whom I have known have become so because of the Spirit empowering them in times of great testing. As the anonymous U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman said, “…we don't really consider these things until they happen.” We do know that we can choose to allow adversity to defeat us or we can choose to allow God to triumph.
We can assume that the levee system will be built back strong enough to fend off higher flooding from the warming cycle during the next couple of hundred years. Our current Katrina tragedy can serve as a wake up call for precious souls who have been trapped in a deeply sinful life.
As the great rivers of Europe flow through cities we can see examples of human engineering dealing with rising seas. The Thames in London is girded on each shore by high stone walls. In April we cruised down the Seine through Paris and each shore was a mountain of stone that had once been the river bed in a warmer climate. America was largely undeveloped during the last period of worldwide high tides, but we coped with it and there are not too many complaints in the literature of that time.
What I feel that I can add to the mammoth pile of words that have been written in the wake of Katrina is that out of the fury of the storm we can find forgiveness , redemption and a new awareness of how we can not only learn how to cooperate with nature, but that we who have survived the floods can find new life through God's love and forgiveness.
“First the Fury and Finally Forgiveness.”
I already feel a sense of spiritual reawakening happening nation wide as a result of this horrible natural disaster. I hope that great good can come out of the bad that has happened. It took the tragedies of September 11, 2001, to wake America from our spiritual nap. Since then it has become more acceptable to talk about God in public places as more and more of us have become more spiritual. Movie Stars and Politicians all feel free to go on and on about their conversion, their prayers and the deeper meaning of life they have since 9/11. And here we are again staring at television images of desperate people crowded into the Astrodome and the Superdome in sub-human situations. Desperate folks walking through polluted water carrying meager salvaged possessions and our hearts have been turned to easy tears again. The Big Easy is hopefully changed forever from easy sin, to easy tears as we will always remember how our hearts were broken by human suffering.
And let me encourage you to celebrate the tears. Some of us have had hard hearts for too long. These tragic events could be used as a spark to get a reawakened fire growing in our cold hearts.
Our lives were changed as we saw the jetliners crash into our Twin Towers and the Pentagon four years ago today. That event affected Americans in much the same was as did the assassination of John Kennedy. Tragedies have a way of redirecting us toward forgiveness and a more thoughtful life after the fury. After all, our gospel was born out of the tragedy of the Cross when the Sun stood still and the world shook. Yet, it brought sweet salvation and the mercy and love of God. Through event like this most recent tragedy we have been shaken once again and given hope of a new forgiveness.
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor