Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reflections on the Victorian Bush Fires

You may be aware that the state of Victoria, in South East Australia, is experiencing its deadliest bushfire season on record. More than 200 lives have been lost and many communities have been left desolate. The following are comments I wrote to share with my colleagues during the daily staff briefing:

Events like the bush fires of what is now known as Black Saturday raise questions about the suffering of innocent people, and God's role in the same. While much of this must remain a mystery, we can say a few words by observing the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, we observe a compassionate and humble God who, for our sake, would become a servant and endure a most painful and shameful death.

In Christ, God did not eliminate evil. To do so would imply an elimination of human freedom. Instead, Christ shared in our suffering and faced the final enemy of humanity - death. Far from death overcoming, Christ descended into death and broke its bonds. An ancient Christian writer said the following about death: “It received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven.” After Christ's resurrection, death ceased to be terminal . It became akin to a bridge into eternal life with God.

As Christians, we cannot always provide satisfactory explanations of human suffering. We can, however, declare an all-loving God who suffered and died voluntarily. We can shout: “Christ is risen ... Truly He's risen.”
I pray that, in our current state of mourning, we may allow the Light of Christ's resurrection to reach us. Amen.