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Hallo again to all.

Jesus Calms the storm Stained Glass Window at Standford Memorial ChurchOur part of the Anglican world has been enduring a heat wave, with temperatures reaching 38℃. As we keep hydrated with cold tea and water, we are thankful this is the worst we are enduring. We have read, of late, about dangerous, atypical heat waves and tsunamis in Asia, earthquakes around the globe, and an increase in both droughts and flooding. These seem only slightly worse than the strange and terrifying changes in the weather that occur throughout the Bible.

Starting almost immediately, in Genesis, we come upon the Great Flood, a rain of forty days and forty nights, with the waters remaining on the earth for one hundred and fifty days, killing every creature that remained on the ground. Though God made a covenant with his people not to do that again, it did not mean he refrained from pulling tricks with the weather. Indeed, in the very next book, God caused a storm of hail and fire to rain from the sky, as the seventh of the ten plagues (along with three days of darkness), leading to the freeing of the Israelites from Egypt. Only six chapters later, God told Moses he would rain bread (manna) down from heaven, though the Israelites only saw it in the mornings, with the dew. It is described as 'white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey,' and able to be baked or boiled. Job's misfortunes began with weather killing his family and continue with God talking to Job in a whirlwind.

Darkness again shadowed the world many centuries later when Christ was on the cross. In Luke's telling of the story, darkness covered the earth until three in the afternoon. In Matthew's account, the earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke opens. Luke and the letter of James recall a period of drought lasting three and a half years foretold by the prophet Elijah, though the story in 1 Kings is a bit less consistent in how long the drought lasted.

None of these are as extreme as the possibilities for the ends of days. '[T]he heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare', Peter suggests, all of which is less detailed than the drama suggested in the Revelation to John.

Regardless of one's opinion on the status of the Revelation to John (prophesy, metaphor, hallucination), its contents are rather dramatic. Of the seven seals mentioned in Revelation, both the sixth and seventh seal involve massive weather changes. The sun becomes black, and the moon like blood, every sea and mountain are moved, causing people to retreat into caves, and an angel takes a heavenly censer filled with fire, and flings to earth 'peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake', leaving the earth devastated. Seven trumpets follow, bringing further devastation, including a fallen star, which opens an abyss from which smoke comes forth. Also, there are anthropomorphic locusts. Somehow the river Euphrates remains intact, as four angels who are bringing forth two hundred million horseman are said to be bound to it. Similar destruction happens through the end of the book and the creation of a new Heaven and Earth.

However many modern day televangelists would like us to think that God brings about modern day weather catastrophes because of society's changing behavior's angering him, God is also known for calming bad weather. Matthew, Mark and Luke all recall Jesus calming the storm. In Psalms, God calls us to lie before the still waters, and stilled the storm to a whisper; hushed the waves of the sea.

Isaiah praises God as a 'shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.'

Our favorite account of this, however, is from the 5th century Lorica of St. Patrick. Its fourth verse:

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind 
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

Whatever the weather—and our own is supposed to become more temperate in the coming week—God is with us, as our refuge and shield.

See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

21 July 2019

* MentalFloss has several lists of strange things that have rained from the sky. Check out these articles from 2013, 2015, and 2017.

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