It may very well be that one of those people who spoke with me last Sunday is reading this today, if so, I am not trying to embarrass you by writing the following.
More than one person made a comment to me after worship that essentially said that they hoped people in Florida realized that they had brought the impending hurricane on themselves as they had angered God. Sadly, in my opinion, they are not alone in making those comments. I must confess to being frustrated by the way some Bible stories and many verses are, frankly, abused by some of my colleagues in ministry and by a number of tv celebrities. I don’t know how many times have I heard the story in Genesis of Noah and the great flood upon humanity contorted to become an attack on the LGBTQ community, as is the case, when people declare Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston having had a lesbian mayor? It is not the first time that one or more extreme groups have linked sexual issues with a natural disaster in America or around the world. Whether it is the LGBTQ community or another group of people, somehow it becomes an attack against sexual morals. Can it really be the case? Do we really think or believe that God would literally cause the death of hundreds and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Cuba and the USA because God does not like the LGBTQ community? Is that really how the God of Love and compassion acts?
I am pleased that Roberts Park, like thousands of churches and other groups across America, and beyond, has, and is, responding with love and generosity. The rescue efforts in Houston are examples of America at its very best. To those who could reached out to help neighbors and strangers, it didn’t matter about race or religion, the color of skin or the ability to pay; folks helped one another to safety and shelter. I urge everyone to join together with their religious communities or other aid organizations to turn a blind eye to prejudice and donate generously to help all these people in their time of need.
Climate issues caused by human society – and not sexual morals – are more likely to have played a role in exacerbating these kinds of mammoth storms. If experts tell us so, then we should do more to protect our environment. At this moment, however, God has nothing to do with causing this hurricane. I think Rabbi Brad L. Bloom has it right when he observes, “What God does have to do with this tragic situation is to instill in us the dedication to preserve life and help our neighbor.” God does command us to get involved and give of our resources and our faith to those who are homeless, hungry and in need of support. Isn’t the real sin here turning a blind eye to another’s suffering?
The book of Exodus says, “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other-so that his hands remained steady till sunset.””
Let us help the men, women, and children relieve their tired bodies, sustain their spirits and steady their resolve. They are tired and need us now more than ever. If you want to add your support through Roberts Park then please send a check to the church with “UMCOR” or “Hurricane Relief” in the memo line and we will pass it on straight away.