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Archive for Saturday, September 24, 2005

Faith forum

September 24, 2005

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What will be the role of faith in rebuilding after Katrina?

Not just a building, but a community

The Rev. Jonathon Jensen, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt., and former canon of Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans:

On the Sunday following Hurricane Katrina, a priest and a small congregation from all walks of life gathered together on the site where their church used to stand. Nothing was left of the magnificent 19th-century structure but the shell of the bell tower. They celebrated Holy Communion, the resurrection feast, on that spot.

The action was a powerful reminder that the Church is not just a building but the people of God gathered in mission - a people who live by faith and give that faith away.

It may seem silly or inappropriate to "celebrate" the resurrection feast when there seems far more to mourn than to celebrate, but Christianity is, in essence, a resurrection faith. In the midst of death we proclaim new life.

Sometimes in the midst of death - especially on such a massive scale of loss of life and possessions and way of life - resurrection or hope is hard to see. The primary role of faith in the recovery and rebuilding efforts will be to restore hope again.

A priest in New Orleans wrote about how this restoration of hope is already taking place. He wrote that, "A deacon on the Gulf Coast tried to console a woman who was just informed that a number of her close family members perished in the storm. He asked the woman to hold out her empty hands and tell God, 'It's too much, I can't handle it,' and give it over to God. This prayer is now being said over and over."

- Send e-mail to Jonathon Jensen at jwj@trinitylawrence.org.

The Lord helps all those who fall

The Rev. Alan Estby, campus pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church & University Student Center, 2104 Bob Billings Parkway:

Thoughts of faith from the Rev. David Lewis, disaster coordinator for the Southern District-Lutheran Church Missouri Synod: "As another day after the violence of Katrina draws to a close, we cry out to the Lord for strength and courage, grace and hope. And even as we see signs of hope among so much sadness, we lift our hands in an evening song of praise. Even in the middle of the loss, anxiety, grief and stress of this event, our Lord has witnessed his faithfulness again and again. Every time I feel like throwing in the towel, I hear a story of goodness or generosity."

Rebuilding is seen in a sense of financial cost, materials needed and willingness to persevere. The role of faith is knowing that the God who has provided in the past will provide in the coming days.

The Scriptures in Hebrews 11 tell us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The role of faith in rebuilding can be seen in the opportunities that the faithful use to share in the things which God has blessed them.

The greatest role of faith in rebuilding comes in the lives and relationships of people given care for their loss, anxiety, grief and sadness.

God is faithful in rebuilding lives. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, Jesus, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. A faithful God provides for our life today and forever.

- Send e-mail to Alan Estby at pastoralan@ilcusc.org.

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