Pray for the Philippines, and give generously from the heart
A mother weeps beside the dead body of her son at a chapel in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban. She cried bringing him into this world; screamed in frustration as she nurtured him; and now weeps as her hand caresses his cold, lifeless cheek. Her heart is broken; the grief overwhelming. The wooden cross on the distant wall is utterly unapproachable.
Multiply this mourning by 10,000, and add countless millions who are now homeless, jobless and without food or clean water, struggling to survive after what is believed to be the most devastating natural disaster in recorded history. The photographs pierce the heart: the catastrophe, destruction and havoc are unimaginable. Wives have lost their husbands, and husbands sob their hearts out at the loss of their soul-mates. Thousands of children have been orphaned. Lawless hordes are looting. Bodies are rotting in the streets.
Like the suffering Job, some will be pleading to God, asking "Why?"
But this is not a time for theodicy. The whole creation is groaning, as in the pains of childbirth. Life is a tragedy: it is one bitter problem followed by another; a day of trauma followed by a week of anguish followed by a month of sorrow and a year of unbearable pain. And then, at last, you die.
We can reflect and pray: the Archbishop of Canterbury leads the way:
The news of the devastating storm in the Philippines is tragic, and my heart goes out to the people there. We are all deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of thousands of lives and of the suffering of millions as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.And the Church of England has published a prayer for the Philippines:
'Our prayers are with all who have lost loved ones and all those who are traumatised by the disaster and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical attention. We pray for those who are most vulnerable in this crisis: children separated from their parents, the sick and injured, the disabled and the elderly.
'As a Church, we will stand beside the people of the Philippines at this devastating time, offering all we can in practical and spiritual support as the scale of the disaster unfolds.
'I note that the relief work has already commenced and my prayer is that governments, agencies, churches and individuals will respond generously to help the people of the Philippines to recover and rebuild their shattered lives.
'May the victims of this terrible storm know God’s comfort and derive strength from their faith.'
O loving Creator, bring healing and hope to those who, at this time, grieve, suffer pain, or who have been made homeless by the force of flood in Philippines.Please don't read over that "through the generosity of the privileged" bit. Prayer demands action. Suffering on this scale needs a response. Please give a charity donation to an organisation involved in the relief efforts. The amount doesn't matter (Lk 21:1-4): the important thing is that we are helping someone in need (Mt 25: 31-40). If you don't know a trustworthy charity, feel free to donate to His Grace's Collection Plate and he will forward your contribution.
We remember those who have died and we pray for those who mourn for them.
May we all be aware of Your compassion, O God, which calms our troubled hearts and shelters our anxious souls.
May we pray with humility with our troubled and struggling brothers and sisters on earth. May we dare to hope that through the generosity of the privileged, the destitute might glimpse hope, warmth and life again.
Through our Saviour Christ who lives with us, comforts us and soothes us. Amen.
These are not foreigners: they are our brothers and sisters, and their need is great. "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."