The Rev. Dr. John Tamilio III, Ph.D.

Pilgrim United Church of Christ
Cleveland, Ohio

Psalm 46:1-3

Holy God of Earth, and Sea, and Sky,
of all that was and all that shall be —

It all seems to happen so quickly:
a rumble, a buckle in the earth, a swell.
And then, catching us unawares,
all that surrounds us is reduced to rubble.
Stone upon stone.  Ash thickening the air.
Silence.  Tears.  Even nature laments.
And in the aftermath, the ocean travels
to foreign shores bringing ominous waves,
water that will obliterate, not baptize.

This is where the world stands at the
start of this somber, Lenten season.
Earthquakes thunder and tsunamis inundate
with little warning and even less prejudice.

We lift up our prayers and our hearts for
the people of Japan and Hawaii who lie
in the wake of such callous catastrophes.
As death tolls rise, and warnings increase
as far afield as Canada and South America,
our feelings of helpless intensify.  Our
intercessions are with those who border
the Pacific, which is anything but placid now.

We turn our despondency over to you, O God.

We know, at the core of our being, that
you are not the cause of such travesty.
We also confess that we do not understand
why evil, be it natural or human wrought,
exists in this world you created and blessed.
For you are a God of minimum protection,
yet you are also a God of maximum support.
For this we offer you our prayers of gratitude
and we ask that your sacred presence surround
the victims of such devastation and that you
give them the strength and courage they need
as they gather with family and friends, with
relief workers and missionaries, to rebuild their
homes and communities.  Bless them, we pray.

Offer solace to the loved ones of those whose
lives were lost and to those who desperately
search for bodies that may never be found.

Indeed, we are dust and to dust we shall return.
The finitude of our earthly sojourn hits hard
during this penitential season of prayer and fasting.
Be with us through these forty days, O Holy One,
as we try to make sense of it all.  Help us be still.

We ask this, and all things, in the name of your
Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ — the One in
whose name we forever rejoice to pray.