Jesus said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Matthew 22: 37-39
Dear People of St. David’s,
I am sure, that like me, you have been watching the daily news with incredulity as the death toll in Turkey and Syria rises after the devastating earthquake of a few days ago. As I write, it had surpassed 19,500, and when you read this, it will likely be even more. These numbers are incomprehensible. And when you consider the ramifications of those numbers, the “ramifications,” become brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters whose lives were taken without warning, other brothers and sisters who are attending to their earthly remains as best they can, and still others who continue to search, praying and hoping to find people alive, awaiting rescue.
People are lining up to give blood, staff supply centers, dig through rubble (some with their bare hands), drive ambulances, and provide emergency medical care. And how many other supporting jobs are beyond our imagination? Most of us have never lived through a disaster of this magnitude, and we can’t even begin to guess what might be needed.
I heard one man say that he was offering himself to the search and recovery efforts because he was “human.” That sense of being human and sharing that with others is at the heart of our faith, and of many other faiths as well. The grace which we cherish as a gift from a loving God calls us to serve one another because we are recipients of forgiveness and mercy, undeserving as we might be. Whatever faith tradition our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria hold dear, the love of neighbor as oneself is at the heart of our humanity.
In April of 2015, there was an earthquake in Nepal that claimed almost 9,000 lives. At the time I found the number so difficult to comprehend that I found some old yarn and started tying simple knots, 100 to a length of string. I kept going until I had reached nine thousand. I tied them to the altar rail, and invited the Sunday worshippers, as they came to communion, to finger the strings and the knots, praying for each human life, precious in God’s sight.
As devastating as these losses are in our human family, we are a people of the sure and certain hope of resurrection. God holds each one of these dear ones fast, and there are some new voices around the throne of God.
But how can we help? If you feel as if you would like to do something from afar, please consider the charity of your choice, or Episcopal Relief and Development: https://support.episcopalrelief.org/syria-turkey-earthquake/.
The Rev. Elizabeth W. Colton