A reading from the letter of Paul to the people of New Orleans,
To all in New Orleans who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have heard of your troubles. Your city has drowned. The fury unleashed by Hurricane Katrina has made plunged your city into chaos. Many of you have been asking what you did to have God’s wrath visited upon you. You ask, what did you do to anger the Almighty?
I implore you to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said that God rains down upon the just as well as the unjust. Rain happens. Rain has the power to save life and take life; to cleanse and to destroy; to heal and to hurt.
Just as the waters of baptism drown our old sinful self, and we rise to new life with our Lord Jesus, the waters of Hurricane Katrina remind us that we are not creatures of our own destiny. Life is fragile. That’s what makes it so precious.
I have heard of the deserted dead decaying under the hot Louisiana sun, corpses floating down the flooded streets, the sick and elderly abandoned to die hungry and alone.
I have heard of your babies dying from hunger, medicine being denied to the sick, water contaminated by the disease ridden corpses and the backed up sewers.
I have heard of snipers shooting at Aid workers, looters pillaging through the wreckage of peoples’ lives, sexual assaults in wide open spaces.
I have heard your cries of despair.
You ask how this could happen in the United States of America. You ask how such chaos could erupt in the richest country in the world. You ask how the strongest power in the history of the planet could fail to protect its own citizens.
As you look out at a sorrowing city, I’m guessing that you now understand the difference between anarchy and freedom. You’ve learned that the freedom we have in Christ is not a lawlessness that leads to destruction, but a way of love that brings life to the world. (the rest here)