News of the devastation in Oklahoma is still coming in. The loss of life, the suffering, the mourning, and the destruction of property break my heart and grieve my soul. My prayers continue to ascend for all those affected, and I ask you to join me in those prayers.
I contacted Bruce and Susan MacPherson, and they assured me that they are safe and well.
At times like this some understandably wonder how a loving God could allow such misery. Others--misguided in their thinking--point a finger at those suffering loss and insist that God has visited just punishment upon them. What slander against God! Just look at the Cross. There we see God immersed in our darkest moments by his own choosing and for the sake of our redemption and healing.
Our universe is infinitely complex. Chaos theory teaches us that hurricanes (and tornadoes) arise in America from the fluttering of a butterfly's wings in China. We sort through this infinite sea of data with finite, fallible minds. We cannot fully grasp why such tragic things happen. However, we can know that God has promised to redeem all things. Even the bleakest, most shattered of things. And there lies our hope and from there we draw our strength to do whatever good we can do.
Among the goods we can do is prayer. Here is a prayer from Evening Prayer and Compline that I share with you for the people of Oklahoma tonight:
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.
Please pass along these words to your flocks as you see fit. Thank you for the loving leadership you provide in such difficult times.
In Christ's Love,
The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, PhD, DD
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031
Alexandria, Louisiana 71309-2031
Further words from the Bishop...
Our neighbors in Oklahoma are reeling from the devastation wrought by yesterday's tornado. First responders are only just beginning the hard work of helping them recover. For now, those on site ask that we stay away so that those first responders can do what they do so well.
In the meantime, there is still much that we can do. As I mentioned in this morning's email, continue to pray. If you would like to send a financial donation, write a check to The Diocese of Oklahoma and add "Tornado Relief" to the memo line. Here is an address:
Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, 924 N. Robinson, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
I am in discussion with Mtr. Mitzi George (Coordinator for Disaster Relief) and Archdeacon Bette Kaufmann about a diocesan mission trip in July or later. This will allow time for the first responders to do what they need to do and time for us to coordinate with the Diocese of Oklahoma. Look for more information soon.
In addition to our own mission trip, volunteer opportunities are made available for disaster work by Episcopal Relief and Development. While it is too early to expect coordinated efforts today, here is the link you can use to find volunteer opportunities: ERD Volunteer Opportunities.
Bishop Ed Konieczny of Oklahoma reports that they have what they need in the present. But we also know that this will be a long recovery project. I know that I speak for all of us when I say to him that they are not alone.