Spirit Quest

Spirit Quest

Pray for a storm of good will to sweep the world

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

It is now less than three months since we welcomed the new year with optimism and excitement as we usually do. Much has happened in this short time and I can’t help but wonder what the historians will call this Anno Domini, will it be Annus Horribilis? It has been a time when we have witnessed rebellions and natural as well as not so natural disasters.

The latest of course is the 9.0 earthquake that shook Japan precipitating a  tsunami that swept up entire cities and left unbelievable rubble in its wake. The floods wrecked nuclear plants  sending the radiation count off the scale threatening a melt down. Food, drinking water and power is in very short supply. Residents of the area are living in whatever facilities are available. Foreigners are leaving the country by the thousands.

At that same on the extreme other side of the globe the forces of Gadhafi in Libya have pushed back those fighting for freedom to the outskirts of  Benghazi while the leaders of the G8 have sat on their hands or made threats that must have seemed amusing to the tyrant. At almost zero hour on March 17th the Security Council declared a No Fly Zone and Gadhafi announced as cease fire the next day.

Just as Japan has been continuously rocked by aftershocks so shock waves have rattled northern Africa and unseated Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, freed Tunisia and threatened the governments of several other mid east countries.  Has there ever been a time of multiple crisies such as these within  fifteen short weeks? It has left a feeling of uncertainty and downright fear as we face the future.

I would like to write a message  of comfort and reassurance . What does one say to a people who have lost everything and are now confronted by the unseen power of radiation that brings illness and death?

What does one say to a people who have fought valiantly against a ruthless dictator, to have come within sight of victory and then been pushed back by the tyrant’s military superiority on land and in the air?

We are encouraged to pray, but do we really believe that words can sway a distant deity. And what kind of divinity is it that allows disasters to happen and waits for the cry of the victims to change his/her ways?  I don’t want to believe in such a capricious god. The atheist’s arguments have been greatly enhanced by the events of this time. So where is God, if there is one, in times like these?

In Fukushima there are men dressed in protective garb that doesn’t however prevent the deadly gamma rays from penetrating to their bodies. They have volunteered knowing full well the consequences of exposure in order to do what is in their power to staunch the reactors fires. I see something of the divine in them. No, they are not gods, but the love of God is at work within them.  Perhaps they themselves would not call it that. There are many others of course, doctors, nurses, firemen, police, engineers and ordinary citizens, people supplying food or holding the hands of the grieving. I see the influence of God in all of them.

I also see the power of God in those brave Libyans who have determined to overthrow their mad despot in order to bring peace and justice to their land. That same spirit is coming alive in many people in other countries.

In the face of this turmoil  we gasp with relief that neither earthly disaster or strife have touched our lives. It is enough to unnerve me that a fire in a hardware store in the New Edinburgh neighbourhood of Ottawa not far from my home and favourite coffee shop, has relased toxic smoke . And did we sense an earthquake on the afternoon of March 15 in eastern Ontario?

We say “Thank God,”  but that godly power is also among us . This power ought not to allow us to tolerate the growing gap between the rich and the poor  and the assaults on our environment. There are many other issues that the spirit call us to attention.

I believe that the Spirit is alive beckoning those of us who can, to aid the helpless near and far. Theism, the belief in a kind of anthropomorphic God out there beyond time and space, is questioned even by believers today.  However, the presence of a spirit is without question. It is palpable in the world today.

We are encouraged to pray not for some miraculous intervention but for the Spirit to empower us . Someone once said to me , “Don’t pray for something that you yourself are unwilling to do.” Yes, pray and then roll up your sleeves or open your cheque book in order to empower someone else to do the jobs that need doing.  We are indeed fortunate that there are many organizations, NGOs  as well as governmental agencies, who are touching the lives of people throughout the world.

Prayer works. As the people pray a storm of good will is released to spread across the world. The problem is that not enough pray  allowing those prayers to motivate them to do justly and spread peace among human kind.

Jesus said , “The Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17: 21). God has chosen to live within humankind. Allow the Spirit of the Kingdom to motivate your life.

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