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Sunday, August 29, 2010

8/29/10- Mark 16:4-8

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.  6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' " 8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

(Pictures: Rolex in MS Mud-Gary S Chapman; Houston Astrodome filled with refugees; looters; PDA in front of relief camp)

Thoughts: There are many physical images of the resurrection- a caterpillar turning into a butterfly; new grass and new leaves coming back in spring; tulips popping up from the ground; Yellowstone Park after its huge fire coming back even healthier and greener.  Perhaps this today a good image would be the Gulf Coast coming back five years after Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil spill.  When disasters happen, evil becomes clear- human nature is seen transparently, but also good and the power of the resurrection is seen as well. 
The things that do not last are seen for what they are.  One lady noted that she thought she was safe in her big house with her education, savings account and nice job, but Katrina humbled her.  She called Katrina "the great equalizer."  Isn't that what death is called?  Katrina was like death- and people are facing it like they are facing death.  I remember going to Biloxi, Misssissippi on a relief trip a few months after Katrina.  The casinos put up big signs of how they were going to stay with the people of Misssissippi- but some left to go to St. Louis, and the ones we saw showed little care for their employees and only wanted to rebuild their buildings (we helped fix the house of one of their employees who lived a block from the casino).  I remember seeing new cadillacs full of mud.  Or the picture above of a rolex in the mud.
Some of the haunting images of Katrina was the looting.  People just going into Walmart and walking off with a TV- even though there was no electricity or cable for it.  Some became violent.  Even rescue helicopters were shot at by thugs and drug dealers. There was a huge rise in violence that came with a deterioration of order, no lights, and not as many police.  The historic failure of the local, state, and federal government (especially FEMA) is very public. Yet, the $105 billion allocated by the federal government helped some.
There was also good.  The mother who ricked her life to save her daughter.  Thousands were rescued by the coast guard, volunteers (like the Cajun Navy) and others. The man in Mississippi who swam over to his neighbor's house in the height of the storm to get him out of his flooding attic. The people of Houston welcoming refugees despite their own problems.  So many hundreds of thousands of volunteers going to Mississippi and Louisianna to clean out muck, and rebuild houses.  One of the hidden stories I have not seen are how the Christian groups went by the tens of thousands from Iowa, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and all over to help.  The Salvation Army cooked 5.6 million hot meals and made 8.5 million sandwiches for relief workers, volunteers and residents.  Habitat for Humanity rebuilt 2,200 new homes. 
There will always be crazies on extremes who think because Hurricane Katrina hit there is no God;  Or those who say Katrina's purpose was only to punish the wicked.  The wounds are still raw with Katrina. But if we look with eyes of faith- you can see an empty tomb and new life coming out.  I love Presbyterian Disaster Assistance's motto: "Out of Chaos- Hope." 

Prayer: Today, Lord, we pray for those who are still hurting from Katrina. Those who are grieving today over the loss of a home, income, a way of life, or a loved one.  We ask that you would be a refuge and a strength to them.  That they would turn to you and find strength, courage, and hope.

John Calvin abridged:  Mark says the women were expressly asked to carry the message to Peter; not because he was a higher rank than others, but because hie crime was so disgraceful that he needed particular consolation to assure him that Christ has not written him off even though he had fallen wickedly.  Peter had already entered into the tomb, and saw traces of the resurrection of Christ; but God denied him the honor, which he conferred on the women of hearing the angel say that Christ has risen.  It appears that Peter tried to hide himself and fled in fear while Mary sat down to weep at the grave.  It cannot be doubted that she and her companions, in beholding the angel, obtained the reward of patience.

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