I have long believed that life holds more sadness than joy. Hurricane Sandy, which last week devastated coastal areas from the Chesapeake to New York, was a good reminder of our vulnerability, even our mortality. Many of my old friends are still pumping water, clearing downed trees and keeping warm on the power of emergency generators.
In Sunday’s sermon at Church of the Advent, Louisville, Father Tim spoke of our tendency to think that if we live right or have enough faith, we will avoid the storms. Many misguided leaders have said that God sent Sandy to the region as punishment for arrogant elitism. It could have been avoided had residents lived in humility and dependence on God. Similarly, when a recent Louisville bus crash took the lives of several toddlers, many took comfort in the idea that this, too, was God’s will.
Does God cause our cancer or heal our cancer? When we pray, does God answer and change the course of history or in our prayers do we come alongside God and see our lives from a different vantage point?
The gospel lesson on Sunday was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Father Tim spoke these words and, for me, the clouds parted: Lazarus was called back to life. He was dead, and Jesus called him back to life. We are dead, and we are called back to life.
The storm rages. We continue to grieve and we struggle to get back on our feet. But as we approach the Advent season, I am reminded of the Easter message. No storm, not even death, can take this away from us. God calls us out of death to life, now and always.