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Leaves from a Lutheran Notebook: Water

childrenprayingsm-761872 This is an excerpt from a blog posting on Leaves from a Lutheran Notebook. Anne is posting from Bratislava, Slovakia, where she serves the Bratislava International congregation as a Global Mission Horizon Intern. Anne’s husband, Sean, is an ELCA volunteer missionary teaching at the Lutheran highschool in Bratislava. Help ELCA Disaster Response “be there for the long haul” after flooding. Donate online at Learn more at –Sue-s

Posted: 15 Sep 2008 08:27 AM CDT
It is the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows, patron saint of Slovakia and a national holiday. Sean and I are listening to Morning Edition via at almost 3pm, getting ready for school tomorrow and still recovering from a whirlwind week (teaching, sermoning, etc.) It’s been raining lightly all day, a gentle, welcome tapping on our windows that makes me glad to be inside, warm and cozy. I love days like this, especially after it has been so brutally hot.

Water can be comforting, joyful, renewing, and such a relief. Water is also powerful and frightening. Six hours after I gave a children’s message on the joyful experience of using water to remember our baptism, Pastor Kristi at St. Luke’s in Park Ridge, Ill., responded to flooding in the United States with a children’s sermon on Noah, and God’s rainbow promise to never destroy the world.

Water has as much potential for destruction as it does for sustaining creation–it is absolutely essential to life and can be absolutely deadly. God uses this powerful sign to make powerful promises to humanity: you will not be destroyed, you are my children, you are forgiven.

Lots of prayer requests on my mind today! Let us pray for the search and rescue workers in Galveston and for everyone still waiting for them.
Let us pray for everyone trying to get the basics in Houston: power, drinking water, gasoline for generators, food. May the relief efforts reach and assist them in their times of need.
Let us pray for everyone in the South and Midwest impacted by Hurricane Ike–bless relief agencies and home and business owners who will be “in it for the long haul” for recovery and rebuilding.
Let us give thanks for God’s life-giving gift of water: water used for cleaning up after storms, to sustain the people who are in the midst of recovery, and to remind all of us that God loves us, forgives us, and gives us new life.

The picture above is of us praying at the end of the children’s message, yesterday. We had so much fun sprinkling water on the congregation! You can see the kids are suppressing giggles, here. Water is a lot of fun when it isn’t in hurricane form.

A message from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson

Statement on Hurricanes, September 12, 2008
A message from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you…. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you….” (Isaiah 43:1-2,4a)

As I write, yet another hurricane is threatening the Gulf Coast. This one is only the latest in a seemingly endless series of storms that have brought hardship, destruction, fear and even death to brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean, especially Haiti. The relentless destruction reminds us that the rebuilding of lives continues in other areas that have been affected by floods, tornadoes, fires and other disasters.

I call on you to respond in the midst of danger and loss. While some are preparing for storms yet to come, others are fleeing from storms, and still others are rebuilding in the aftermath of disasters. I ask you to respond with your prayers, your generous gifts of time and money, your volunteer hours and skills, the open doors of your homes and churches, and your commitment to a sustaining presence for the long haul. Visit ELCA Disaster Response for updates, for downloadable bulletin inserts, and for ways to make contributions online.

These expressions of our faith remind us that we are called by name and are bound together by our baptisms into community with those who suffer. Thank you for your generous and sustaining response in the midst of the disasters.

God’s work. Our hands.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America