A homily preached by Intern Pastor Bob Schaefer
Fir-Conway Lutheran Church
Good Friday - April 13, 2001
Text: Isaiah 52.13-53.12
Hearers of the Word, grace and peace in the name of the One who was crucified, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
“I’m sure glad I don’t live here in Seattle!”
After an afternoon of taking in some of [the Jet City’s] sights and sounds, my brother’s abrupt declaration came as something of a surprise. Glancing over my shoulder at him as we motored down I-5, I took the bait. “OK, I’ll bite. Why wouldn’t you want to live in Seattle, Jeff?”
“Well, just think about it, Bob,” my brother said, with a shrug of his shoulders. “It’s right by a huge volcano, it’s sitting square on top of a fault, and it’s right next on the coast. I mean, on any given day you might by crushed or swallowed up by a massive earthquake, drowned by a hundred-foot tall tsunami, or become instant statuary when that mountain goes Vesuvius on you. How come no one remembers Pompeii when they’re building their cities, anyway?” He had a point: the 2000+ residents of that ancient Roman city, the ones who were buried alive when the local volcano belched out 23 feet of ash one afternoon, would probably recommend against living in Rainier’s shadow. To say nothing of the threat from shaking ground or crashing wave.
“What’s worse is that if you get one, more likely than not you’re gonna get the others, too. Me, I’ll take my chances with the tornadoes back in Minnesota. I can always read about whichever natural disaster wipes out Seattle in the paper.” Jeff looked satisfied at having said his piece, and went back to listening to the radio. I shook my head, laughing a bit to myself. When it comes to cataclysmic natural events, mercifully, Minnesota just can’t compete.
Such disaster stories make for compelling news. Newspaper stands are sold out before the morning coffee’s even cold. On our TVs, video, sound clips and analysis swirl in an endless cycle of repetition, peppered occasionally by some fresh, savory tidbit. Around water coolers and gas pumps, the conversation inevitably turns to this catastrophic “act of God,” and the mounting repercussions. Eventually, the stories trickle down from the up-to-the-minute news briefs, to the daily papers, to the newsweeklies, and end up finally-the last lukewarm leftovers to be crammed down our throats-as made-for-TV movies, featuring some also-ran actor doing something typically heroic.
No such “act of God” escapes our popular attention…we’re disaster junkies, feeding on each new horror as if there were no tomorrow.
Except one terrible, horrifying act of God has managed to fly under our radar. One