I guess by now we'll all have heard the terrible news of what has happened in Haiti. The latest figures I saw this morning were of 45,000 to 50,000 killed in the earthquake, and up to 3 million people in need of immediate aid. Jesus taught us that our neighbour isn't just the person we've met this week clearing the snow off our drives and pavements, but is also the person on the other side of the world who we've never met but is suffering because of the earthquake. So how do we respond to all of this?
Some people will be asking the question "if there is a God why would he allow things like this to happen?" To begin to answer that question we need to go back to the fall in Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve messed up it didn't just ruin the relationship they had with God, it also ruined their relationship with themselves, their relationship with one another and their relationship with the environment. This disaster is another part of the fall out from the fall and we need to see it in that light, not blaming God for allowing it to happen but thankful to God that through Jesus he made a way for the results of the fall to be redeemed.
So how do we 'love our neighbour' in this situation. One aspect of our response must be to pray, to ask the God who intervened in human history by sending Jesus to intervene again here. We'll spend some time next week in the week of prayer and fasting praying for all those in Haiti, but as well as praying together I encourage you to pray as an individual. Every time you see a TV report on Haiti or read about it in the newspaper then let that be a spur to pray and to ask God to break in. The Tearfund website has a page of prayer points which I've found very useful, so why not use that as a starting point, but then allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in to what to pray for.
But God always calls us to practical action as well. Matthew 25 and James remind us that faith without works is no faith at all, that faith must always drive us to action. Few of us are going to be able to go to Haiti, or would be of much use even if we were there. But we can contribute financially. I'm going to be talking to the elders about what we do as a church, but would encourage you to engage as an individual too. If you want to give then I'd recommend giving either to Tearfund, or to the Disasters Emergency Committee of which Tearfund is a part.
Disasters like this will always be a part of our human experience until Jesus returns and all things are made new. Until then God calls us to be part of the solution and bring a message of hope for the world we live in.