On March 25 of 1976, I was knocked off of a stool in my grandmother’s kitchen while we were baking cookies. Only later did we discover that it was a major tremor from the New Madrid fault line that travels down the Mississippi River from St. Louis to just south of Memphis. That tremor registered 5.0 on the richter scale. In 1811 and 1812, the New Madrid fault experienced three major quakes, each in the mid 7s on the scale. One of the quakes was so powerful that it was felt on the east coast and caused the Mississippi River began to flow backwards. By 1812, the future course of the river had been significantly altered.
Over the course of the past several weeks, and especially in light of the events of just the past 3 or 4 days, some of us feel like we are experiencing pretty major tremors. Not geological, but cultural tremors that have knocked us off of the stool. Everything feels unstable and uncertain. This week’s killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile followed by the assassination of five police officers in Dallas and possibly another outside of St. Louis – these tragic events have our nation on edge. And then there is the massacre in Orlando. The rising death toll in Chicago and major cities all across the country. There are the recent bombings in Turkey, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. Where do we go from here? How can we make progress? When will the senseless killing end?
As I look into my own heart and read your posts on social media, I find that emotions are raw. There is profound sadness. Grief. Anger. A sense of helplessness and fear and even numbness and nausea.
As our culture tremors and quakes, how can we cope with the rubble around us, not to mention the rubble within us? How can we cope with living in such a badly broken world that is filled with suffering, tears and pain?
That is the question that Psalm 46 addresses and is why I will be preaching from that passage as opposed to my original sermon plan for tomorrow. I hope that our time as a church family in the presence of God will be a balm for your soul. I am trusting that it will be for me.
Yours, in the hope of the gospel,