Summary: Thoughts and suggestions in response to Christmas Tsunami 2004

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Hear us Lord as we lift dark circumstances

into your holy and perfecting light:

(Lift up local concerns and thanksgivings)

For all victims of natural disaster,

especially those who lives were swept away in the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Gather them to yourself in love . . .

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

For the family of nations: that our response to this crisis will be sacrificial and generous . . .

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

For the church: that all relief agencies will be gracious channels of your love and mercy

and that all Christians will recognize the poor and devastated on distant shores . . .

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

For the human family as we grapple with the as-yet-senseless sufferings of our own lives and that of our fellow human beings . . .

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

(This prayer through the words "holy and perfecting light" is copyright © 1991, 1998 The Order of Saint Luke. From The Daily Office: A Book of Hours for Daily Prayer (Volume One: Advent through Season after Epiphany), page 169. Used with permission. The remainder of the prayer is copyright © 2004 The General Board of Discipleship.)

As we gather in worship today we have to remember before God the mounting numbers of dead, the children, parents and relatives that have died by the thousands as the raging tidal waves swept them away. The scenes we have all witnessed on newscasts or read in the papers do not begin to describe the anguish being felt by survivors. The earthquake and resulting tsunami waves are of such epic proportion that it is possible we , though far away, may know people who were there or had loved ones there. Many people throughout the world will be in sorrow; and it will be years, if ever, before some have their lives restored.


8.30 am Even as you watch this amatuer video that someone captured of the big wave coming in you can barely imagine what the experience was like:

VIDEO MPEG—Need audio


This morning I want to share, first of all…


[Adapted from a sermon by Nathan Nettleton, 2 January 2005 on]

On Christmas Eve we gathered here to sing and celebrate

We told stories about a baby

A baby who would save the world

A baby whose birth was greeted by angels

A baby whose birth meant tidings of joy for all people everywhere

We spoke of God-made-flesh

Cute chubby baby flesh

We sang familiar songs

We enjoyed familiar company

God was in heaven and all was well with the world

Or so it seemed

But all was not well with the world

A pressure was building up deep beneath the surface

Two unyielding forces were pushing against each other

And we sang on, oblivious

And others partied on

And holidayed on

Walked along moonlit beaches hand in hand

Wrapped final presents as the kids fell asleep

But underneath, the pressure grew and grew

“All is calm, all is bright” we sang

“Sleep in heavenly peace”

we sang

“While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love”

“We will live forever more, because of Christmas Day”, we sang

But the pressure grew and grew

knowing nothing of the bliss of our songs

or the angels’ watch

Nothing gave way that night, or the next

But the pressure went right on building

And the next morning all hell broke loose

It was a simple thing really

Those two great forces pushing against one another

One slipped a bit

The earth shuddered

The pressure was released

All quite simple

The sudden movement caused a wave

Quite explainable

But as the churches went on singing that Sunday morning

Singing songs about that lovely baby again

That wave was tearing babies out of people’s arms

Sucking beds out through hotel windows with people still in them

Dumping sharks in swimming pools

Turning idyllic beachside villages into churning soups

of angry water and broken glass and car parts and blood

and corrugated iron and dying children

and splintered wood

It was all over in minutes

The water ran back into the sea

taking with it whatever it wished

whatever it hadn’t impaled or trapped or buried

We’ve all seen pictures of what it left behind

Haunting horrible pictures

Mud and ruins and corpses

Tens of thousands of corpses

Old, young, men, women

The life sucked out of them

Dead children strewn everywhere

Hundreds and hundreds of dead babies

What child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping?

What child is this who laid to rest

in the mud and devastation of Aceh? (Ah-chay)

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