Friday, April 7, 2017

The Wrath of Sky and Sea Comes from on High

I sit here on my living room couch with my dogs curled up on my lap, watching the winds howl from on high as they rack and buffet the blossoming tree in my tiny front yard. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory through the end of today for gusts of wind at over fifty miles per hour, and I can already see the damage those winds are doing, just as they did when a part of the remnants of Typhoon Songda last year.

Meanwhile, half a world away, fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were unleashed upon Syria in retaliation for Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own citizenry in Khan Shaykun that killed over seventy people, some of them children.

I watched the videos of the Tomahawks launching towards their targets this morning. I couldn't bring myself to do so last night. MSNBC's Brian Williams called the whole display "beautiful," but I don't think I ever could.

Tomahawk missiles are considered low-altitude, meaning they may only cruise at an altitude of one hundred feet or so, but here in the second story of my house, even a low-altitude Tomahawk would be crashing down upon me from on high, much like the winds that are screaming and howling at great length outside my windows right now.

Except, I know that there isn't a chance of a Tomahawk headed my way anytime soon. I cannot say the same for the Syrian people, who have to be terrified of what will be next--being bombed by their own government, or being bombed by us in the name of opposing that selfsame homicidal government.

How barbarically and horrifically appropriate, then, that our response to airborne chemical weapons and barrel bombs wielded by Assad against his own people should also come from the sky. In the creation story of Genesis 1, the sky is created by means of separating it from the sea. And the sea was seen by the ancients as a source of chaos, horribleness, and death. Untold monstrous animals lived within its depths. Its waters carried the ships of invading peoples. Even the water itself--moving, life-supporting water--was seen as covering the earth in chaos and darkness as the world was still yet without form and void.

So God said let there be light, and the darkness ceased. And then God separated the sky from the sea.

I realize that as a matter of course, this is not necessarily exactly how creation went--the days of creation are not literal twenty-four hour days, and not all creatures and critters were created in one fell swoop.

But re-reading that story today, in the wake of a week of chemical weapons attacks and retaliatory airstrikes, I begin to see anew why the ancients saw the sky as an offshoot of that source of chaos and horribleness of the seas.

Indeed, those Tomahawks were launched from US Navy destroyers stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. The wrath of the skies was inextricably intertwined with the wrath of the seas.

Just as it was at the time of the creation.

We have come up with new means for the oldest of ways.

But one week from today, we Christians commemorate a new way, the via dolorosa, the way to Golgotha--the way to the cross. It is there that the redemption of humanity, and its liberation from its own sinfulness, begins.

Through yet another act of violence by the state upon a civilian, a resurrection can then take place...first of one man (or God-made-man). But later...all of us.

As a Christian pastor, then, my heart aches for and is with not only the Syrian Christians whom have been championed by American Christians seeking a more exclusionary refugee policy, but also my Muslim brothers and sisters in Syria who similarly long and ache for peace. A peace that comes from what God has placed in our hearts and so too, in a manner, comes from on high.

In the meanwhile, the winds ratchet up once more. And I fear what the winds will carry next to the people in Syria desperate for peace.

What a blessed relief it will one day be, then, for that peace to be what we remember our world for rather than the wrath that we deliver from both the seas and skies of God's good creation.

Vancouver, Washington
April 7, 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment