My good friend, former colleague, and seminary classmate, the Rev. Dr. Laurie A. Kraus, is now Coordinator of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), a well-respected mission arm of the Presbyterian Church (USA). When she was pastor of a Presbyterian congregation in Miami, she would respond to disasters around the country – often within hours – by getting on a plane and going to where the suffering was. Name the most recent hurricane, earthquake, or tornado, and you can be assured that she was there, bringing the love of Jesus Christ. Her heart is and has always been with hurting people.
Until I visited the PDA website this week, looking for directions on how to make a gift, I didn’t know Laurie was also a writer. The prayer that follows is one she wrote to help the rest of us pray for those in Moore, Oklahoma.
I find that natural disasters do not bring out the best theological thinking in people. In fact, disasters often bring out the worst sort of responses – shallow, trite, and just plain not Christian. All of which makes me thankful for Laurie – and her thoughtful, compassionate responses to what has happened.
O God of love, whose Spirit in creation moved over the face of chaos, bringing life: hear our prayers, as we bear witness this day to the awful power of wind, whose might raged over your people in Moore, Oklahoma, changing lives and landscapes in an instant . Even now, as first responders still labor to seek those who are lost and succor those who are bereaved and bereft, even as stories of terror and hurt are still unfolding,
WE TOUCH YOUR HAND OF MERCY
In teachers who sheltered with their bodies the children entrusted to their care, as you, O God, like a mother hen spread her wings over her people Israel:
WE SEE YOUR FACE, AND FEEL YOUR TENDER EMBRACE.
In neighbors who rallied to one another’s need, in houses of worship which opened their doors to give shelter, in volunteers who set their personal needs aside to assist those in grave danger and those awaiting a hand of compassion
WE FEEL THE HEART OF YOUR COMPASSION.
In the courageous resolve of first responders, who listen for cries in the dark, dig through the rubble, tenderly bind up wounds and comfort the bereaved,
WE EXPERIENCE THE STEADFASTNESS OF YOUR LOVE.
We are grateful for the signs of your presence in responders, neighbors, strangers and families of faith, who come together as one common body to save, support, and salve the wounds of those who suffer.
FOR ALL THESE VISIBLE SIGNS OF YOUR INVISIBLE GRACE, WE BLESS YOUR NAME
Our Rock and Redeemer, who from the bonds of death rose to resurrection life for the sake of Love, be a strong presence among those who, having survived this chaos, now face grief, uncertainty and weary days:
BE IN US AND THROUGH OUR PRAYERS AND ACTIONS A SOURCE OF HOLY COMFORT AND A CHANNEL OF HEALING GRACE.
MAY THE PEACE OF GOD MOVE THROUGH US, THE REST OF GOD ABIDE WITH THOSE WHO HAVE ENDURED TERRORS AND SORROW, AND, IN THE SEASON OF REBUILDING, MAY THE LIFE OF GOD BRING OUT OF FORMLESS CHAOS, A NEW CREATION. AMEN.
—the Rev. Dr. Laurie A. Kraus, Coordinator, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
For anyone who is interested, Laurie has also provided a hymn text for Sunday which you can find here. Sing to the tune of “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming.”