Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.... Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you....” (Isaiah 43:1-2,4a)
As I write, yet another hurricane is threatening the Gulf Coast. This one is only the latest in a seemingly endless series of storms that have brought hardship, destruction, fear and even death to brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean, especially Haiti. The relentless destruction reminds us that the rebuilding of lives continues in other areas that have been affected by floods, tornadoes, fires and other disasters.
I call on you to respond in the midst of danger and loss. While some are preparing for storms yet to come, others are fleeing from storms, and still others are rebuilding in the aftermath of disasters. I ask you to respond with your prayers, your generous gifts of time and money, your volunteer hours and skills, the open doors of your homes and churches, and your commitment to a sustaining presence for the long haul. Visit ELCA Disaster Response for updates, for downloadable bulletin inserts, and for ways to make contributions online.
These expressions of our faith remind us that we are called by name and are bound together by our baptisms into community with those who suffer. Thank you for your generous and sustaining response in the midst of the disasters.
God’s work. Our hands.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America