What to say? We now have refugees in the convention center downtown. They will sleep tonight shoulder to shoulder on the floor. This will not just be for tonight or for the rest of this week, but for months.
It makes me want to buy a house, a two or three bedroom one, and invite families, couples or individuals in to stay. But there's nothing I can do to house them now.
Our best option is to help get them out. Buy movie passes, or museum passes. The flood victims' vouchers won't arrive until Tuesday at the earliest because the mail doesn't run tomorrow. Our church office which was to be closed Labor Day, will open tomorrow to bring in supplies for relief. Roger preached a moving sermon this morning (as usual) calling FBC to respond immediately to our new neighbors here in Austin.
At Mosaic, Seth led us in a song written by a psalmist, put to music by Laurie Chaffeur...
"By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we thought of home so far away. On the branches of the willow trees we hung our harps and hid our hearts from the enemy. And the men that surrounded us made demands that we clap our hands and sing. Please don't make us sing this song. It used to be happy when we were free and home. If I can't remember, may I never sing a song again. I can't. I won't. I feel so far away."
Of course, this references Israel's exile to Babylon when they too lost their cities, their homes and to many, their religion which was entirely wrapped around the Temple where God dwelled. Can you imagine being told to sing, worship, and rejoice by the priests? How could they? They lost their God. Of course out of the exile came synagogues and a reminder that God is not just a God of the Temple, but the God of a covenant, a God who dwells with his [sic] chosen people.
I believe that God will make good result from this pain. If these waters are such that rain down like justice, then, as my pastor says, it is not the judgment that some fundamentalists are claiming, but rather judgment on us as a nation who fails to help the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed. To the corrupt city governments who turn a blind eye and take the bribe, to the police forces who sell more drugs than they extricate, to the racism, rape and pillaging of the hearts and homes of the poor, we stand judged: we the white, we the rich, we the religious, we the people. A wise friend wrote me, "Katrina has pulled back the covers, rendered the curtain of the temple and said, "Look at how you treat the least of these...look! LOOKGODDAMNIT!"
Let justice roll down like mighty waters . . .
"Poor, poor America" who used 9-11 to not remedy relations overseas, but to kill and destroy innocents, de-humanize our neighbors by creating a monstrous "enemy," and boost our self-esteem through shopping.
When will we stop crossing to the other side of the road?