When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Amid all the uncertainties of life, we like to think that at the very least we are assured that we stand on solid ground. This weekend forced us to confront the fact that even the earth on which we stand is subject to shifting, sometimes quite violently.
As a native Californian, I was almost relieved when the 6.4 magnitude earthquake came, because my understanding is that earthquakes happen when pressure is built up, so any release of pressure helps to prevent another, more catastrophic, quake. It seemed odd that there were so many aftershocks, but it was the second quake, magnitude 7.1, that rolled for so long that it scared me. While the earth shifted like a boat in choppy waters, I wondered whether I should dive under my desk, and prayed for the people close to the epicenter.
There have been thousands of aftershocks over the weekend, at times averaging one every minute. While many were too small to be felt, I wondered how the residents around Trona and Ridgecrest felt as the earth continued to shake, split, and rumble so relentlessly. There are few things we take as a given in our lives, and one is that the earth is solid beneath us—so how does it impact our sense of security when the earth is far from solid?
Throughout the Bible, we are reminded not to put our trust in temporary things—riches, buildings, human rulers. At this time when buildings can tumble and expensive things are crushed, we are experiencing this teaching. When even the earth seems transient, what is lasting?
As people of faith, we are blessed to know that God, and the grace of Jesus Christ, and the healing and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, is ever with us. As people of God, may we see past surface decoration and appreciate the dignity, the gifts, the searching and insight of every person we meet. And as followers of Jesus Christ, may we prioritize the mission of our Lord, which is eternal and universal in scope, trusting that our Lord’s grace is sufficient.
And in so doing, may we be generous in offering aid to those whose lives have been shaken—by earthquakes, by violence, by governmental detention. May this aid be a sign that no one is alone; that God has chosen to work through us to spread love and concern for those who most need it.
Last week I mentioned what is now hundreds of vigils being planned for this Friday, July 12. You can go to https://www.lightsforliberty.org/localevents for a list; as of today there are vigils scheduled at Altadena Community Church at 7 pm, La Cañada Congregational Church at 7:30 pm, Montebello City Hall at 7 pm, and 391 S State College Blvd, Brea, at 8 pm.
Years from now, we will look back at this time when children are left to the care of other children, when pregnant women are made to sleep on concrete, when men were packed into pens too crowded even to lie down, and people will ask what did the people of faith do? May we make decisions today that reflect our priorities as Christians, for the world to see, for our own conscience, and mostly in obedience to the call of Christ. Even if you aren’t the demonstrating kind, find a way to respond to God’s call on your heart.