Dear Friends in Christ,
In Psalm 46:1-3, the psalmist describes how God's presence is among all people, giving them protection, confidence, and peace.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (NRSV)
On December 11, we experienced one of the largest tornado outbreaks in the United States history. More than 100 people are dead in Kentucky alone after a swarm of tornadoes tore a 200-mile path through the U.S. Midwest and South, demolishing homes, levelling businesses and setting off a scramble to find survivors beneath the rubble.
The powerful twisters, which weather forecasters say are unusual in cooler months, destroyed a candle factory and the fire and police stations in a small town in Kentucky, ripped through a nursing home in neighboring Missouri, and killed at least six workers at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois.
It is during this time of tumult that we must turn to God for protection, confidence, and peace. In the season of Advent, we are anticipating the joyous wonder of the newborn Christ child. A gift to us awaits, a sign that our God is a God of mercy and grace. We are showered with the Lord’s affection, even in tumultuous times, God is with us. Mary affirms God’s mercy and grace and invites us to lean on our faith in this passage from Luke 1:50-51:
He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm. (CEB)
I appeal to all United Methodists in Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota to bring hope to the people impacted by the December 11th tornadoes through prayer and gifts to The United Methodist Committee on Relief.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) can help with the immediate needs of housing, food, shelter, and transportation, as well as long term recovery. United Methodists who want to help with this disaster are encouraged to send donations to UMCOR, the United Methodist official giving channel, where one hundred percent of each donation goes directly to those in need.
I ask you to turn, with me, in prayer for all of God’s people for protection, confidence, and peace. And so, we pray:
God of calm amidst the storms, we pray for those who are impacted by the tornados. Give them peace of mind and heart even amid their struggles. Give them a real sense of your Presence through the helping hands of neighbors and friends who will help in concrete ways. And give those who live in areas unaffected by the storms a sense of agape love to reach out to those who are hurting. Let us love without regard to what divides us, as we embrace what makes us one in you. In your holy name we pray, Amen (UMC Discipleship Ministries)
Bishop Laurie Haller