As of this writing on Friday, August 26 about 9:00 AM , we experienced this past week one of the biggest earthquakes on record in Virginia and are now awaiting the effects of Hurricane Irene which is somewhere off the Florida coast. It has been a news week that you just know had news people about to spin their heads off their necks with excitement while they salivated about all those newsworthy events happening in close proximity. This happens every once in a while, such as the week of William and Kate’s wedding. A couple of days before the royal event, a number of tornadoes ravaged the South. It was horrible.
While I would not ascribe any eschatological significance to an earthquake and a hurricane in the same week, some might see it as evidence of the ending of the world. I certainly respect anyone’s right to such an interpretation: I just think we don’t know when the end of times will come. The Bible chronicles an ongoing series of disasters including floods, famines, the plagues of Egypt, pestilence, whirlwinds, mighty winds, storms, earthquakes, drownings, collapse of buildings and walls, conquests, captivities, destruction of cities, wars, and falls of empires. Beyond the Bible, historically we know we have experienced more wars, more conquests, slavery, poverty, starvation, the plague, diseases of various sorts, economic exploitation, the nationalistic wars of the nineteenth century, colonial exploitation, class, racial and sex discrimination, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the use of atomic weapons, the Cold War, terrorism, and the war on terrorism.
And yet through all of this, people of faith and people of good will have comforted the afflicted, fed the hungry, worked to bring peace, and served the cause of justice. I believe that they represent humanity at its best, and that’s part of what William Faulkner was talking about in his speech given for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 (the speech was delivered in late 1950) in which he famously declared, “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”
We have had an earthquake and we have a hurricane coming but we also have faith, hope and strength. Most of all, we have each other. May each of you go with God.