Daily Reflection
July 11th, 2008

Barbara Dilly

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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I spent my time on sabbatical this spring in Butler County, Iowa where so many of the natural disasters occurred. Beginning Memorial Day weekend when the tornado hit Parkersburg and New Hartford through most of June when flooding forced people out of their homes and businesses, people have been questioning God. Some ask “why me?” Others ask, “why was I spared?” But together we have all been grieving the dead, suffering the losses of homes, schools and businesses in our small towns, and helping our families and neighbors react and recover. And together we are asking “what next?” Tornadoes and floods are all too common in this area. We are all well aware that anything and everything can be taken away in minutes. But we also know that there will always be neighbors and friends who come to our aid, and most of all, God loves us and has mercy on us.

The lessons today point out to me that no matter what happens to us, we should render to God our offerings for God’s goodness to us. This might seem like a difficult concept for non-believers, but God’s people understand that praising God is what binds us together as a community and binds us closer to God in times of need. It gets rid of the differences between those of us who lost family members and property and those who lost nothing. We know that those people who were spared did not have cleaner hearts or spotless lives. All of us need to come together and ask God to renew our hearts so that we can work together in a community of faith to restore our homes and renew our faith.

As I reflect on this time of large scale devastation and my own good fortune, I feel that the best way I can further the process of restoration and renewal is to give more money to the church as well as to those programs that bring material aid and comfort to people. The church I attend here during the summer and its grade school sustained heavy damage by the flood waters. But it is an important center of the community and it is being repaired. The members are making personal sacrifices by volunteering to do labor, to bring food, and by donating money. We are also praying that our community will be made stronger through this time.

That is why the Psalm for today touched me deeply. We have been humbled, but we trust that God will have mercy on us in the midst of this devastation if we are sincere in our hearts. Therefore we sing, as we offer our gifts:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit
from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with
your free spirit.”

Following the singing of this Psalm and the collection of the offering, we stand together and pray. I share here the prayer that has brought us much comfort during these days. As you pray this prayer, it is my prayer that you are in unity with all those communities undergoing a difficult time as a result of tornadoes and floods in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest.

“O Lord our God, you have commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and you have again brought us to your house of prayer to praise your goodness and ask for your gifts. Accept now in your endless mercy the sacrifice of our worship and thanksgiving, and grant us those requests which will be wholesome for us. Remember, O Lord, according to the multitude of your mercies, your whole Church, all who join with us in prayer, all our sisters and brothers wherever they may be in your vast kingdom who stand in need of your help and comfort. Pour out upon them the riches of your mercy, so that we, redeemed in soul and body and steadfast in faith, may ever praise your wonderful and holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Sprit, one God, now and always through all ages of ages. Amen” (Lutheran Book of Worship, p. 118).

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