From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 13:05:01


                         DISASTER RELIEF 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--When Presbyterian pastor Pat Kennedy preached to his 
Oklahoma City congregation just days after the April 19 bomb blast, he 
     "So often in our lives the question 'Why?' doesn't get answered. ... 
The real question for us is not 'Why?' but 'How?'  Now that this has 
happened, how will we face it?  How may we find the strength to face our 
pain and grief and go on affirming life and the God who gives us that life? 
God does not protect us from pain or from life's tragic shocks.  Rather God 
meets us in the midst of it ... with love that dies on a cross and then 
rises to meet us again. 
     "And only in that faith and hope can we keep going," said Kennedy. 
"That's why we've come here today to share our faith and our hope even in 
the midst of our tears and our unanswered questions." 
     That sermon -- and 17 other sermons and addresses delivered in 
Oklahoma City's diverse faith communities in the wake of the tragedy -- 
will be available in a collection to be published July 15 by Chalice Press 
in St. Louis. 
     Royalties from the $15 paperback, "And the Angels Wept:  From the 
Pulpits of Oklahoma City After the Bombing," will go to the Interfaith 
Disaster Recovery of Greater Oklahoma City. 
     Editor David Polk said the sermons reflect the "healing work" of the 
community of Oklahoma City itself  and the book's perspectives will assist 
the ongoing healing in that city and pastors facing criseses elsewhere. 
     Sermons are included from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Baha'i 
communities, including a children's sermon delivered to new confirmands by 
a Roman Catholic priest.  Other contributors are President Bill Clinton, 
the Rev. Billy Graham and Oklahoma governor Frank Keating. 
     The Rev. Marsha Brock Bishop, associate regional minister of the 
Christian Church in Oklahoma and co-editor of the book, says the sermons 
explore the "sense of God's presence in the midst of suffering," drawing on 
both Good Friday and Easter imagery. 
     In the words of the Rev. C. Lawrence Bishop of Edmond Trinity 
Christian Church in Edmond, Okla.: 
     "To say this [the bombing] is not God's plan does not say for a minute 
that God does not have a plan.  But this isn't it.  Too often in human 
experience, you and I take a look at something where God has managed to 
create something good out of tragedy and we see that even out of the ashes 
something wonderful has happened.  And we say, 'Oh! God let that happen so 
this could happen.' 
     "No! No! No! No! No!" Bishop wrote. 
     "God is a creative God.  God does not destroy.  God may come across 
the destruction and enter into it with us, but God is always building, 
always creating.  The ability to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear does 
not imply the seamstress created the sow's ear." 
     Polk said Chalice Press published a similar volume on crisis preaching 
after the Los Angeles riots. 
     Chalice Press is the book publishing arm of the Christian Board of 
Publication, a unit of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Orders 
for the book may be placed by calling (800) 366-3383. Abingdon Press will 
also distribute the book. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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