June 22, 2008

Theologically Worrisome

I'm procrastinating on my sermom fine-tuning by posting here, but it is something that has been troubling me. If people in my congregation are having thoughts that I feel are theologically worrisome, do I let them continue in them, or just keep telling them my own over and over?

Specifically, this is about interpreting the string of natural disasters that have hit our world as warnings from God. There is a strong sense that we are getting ever closer to the end times and these tragic events are reminders to straighten up and fly right. And everything within my cries "no." In the local UM pastors meeting, we talked about not judgment, not warning, but about God leading us throught the stormy waters, about the promise that the waters would not overcome, about Christ being the rock we cling to in these times...

it's really a question of theodicy and God's soverign power. Is God behind natural disasters, or not? Can God stop them? And if God can and doesn't, what does it mean? I reside much more in the mysteriousness of God's power and the reminder of God's promises... whereas, my congregation holds fast to God's power over all and unending desire to get us to obey... so we come out in different places. I'm gently urging them not to consider another person's disaster as an intentional means of God speaking to the world... especially when so much life has been destroyed - to me, that seems so counter to the God I know and love and follow. But I still struggle.

1 comment:

  1. hi, Katie -
    lurker delurking... found you through reading RevGalBlogPals. I've been reading your posts with special attention in the last few days, especially after following the news reports of the flooding in the American mid-west.
    While I was at Theological College, our area was hit with a pretty wild Ice Storm (notice the capital letters?). I was working as a residence don at the time. I remember walking into our common room and seeing all the women on our floor staring out the window, watching the multi-coloured fireworks of the electrical transformers blowing up.
    One young Ismaili woman asked me if I thought the storm was a sign of the apocalypse. Sounds like a similar situation to yours.
    I'll admit, the last few years, I've been more and more dismayed and fearful about climate change and the effects of our global choices. Some would see this as God's wrath at work, I'm sure. And that might be a pretty hopeless feeling. But when I get too overwhelmed with it all, my husband calls me to account - I'm a Christian, he reminds me. I made a choice and signed on for holding onto hold to faith, hope, and love. And I need to ask what the opportunity God is setting before me, or humanity, for change, for stewardship, for making better choices for my children (for all God's children, for that matter).
    So I can understand the fear that you're talking about - especially as a parent. It does feel like the end of the world - we can't trust what we take for granted in the world anymore. I know for some people, it is the end of the world as they know it.
    But when the world as we know it ends, our faith teaches us that even there, we will find someone or something waiting for us...
    I hope.
    Be of good courage - our prayers are with you and the people you serve.
    Keep writing. I'll keep reading!