January 3 - 9, 2005





Tsunami uniting the world for good


Civilization will remember the tsunami of December 26 as one of history’s worst-ever natural disasters. The tsunami also will likely become one of those traumas seared into our common consciousness, much as September 11.


Let us hope that whereas September 11 marked a turn towards violence, hatred mistrust, xenophobia and self-interest, December 26 will mark a turn towards world understanding, cooperation, compassion, selflessness and – I’ll say it plain – love.


Early indications look promising. In the days following the tsunami, nations and people across the globe have poured out their hearts and emptied their wallets to assist the millions left homeless, hungry and fearful. This unprecedented disaster has sparked a proportionately unprecedented response of giving.


Just as personal illness or tragedy can cause someone to rethink what’s really important in life, the disaster seems to be refocusing the nations of the world to put aside their petty differences and pitch in. We can all pray that this spirit will continue as the relief effort stretches over this new century.


The tsunami has caused some to ask the old theodicy question – Why did God send or permit a wave to kill so many innocent men, women and children? The answer, of course, is that the tsunami was not an instrument of our all-loving and all-merciful God. However, in the disaster’s wake God can help us build a better and stronger world.


As Paul told the faithful of Rome, “All things work together for good for those who love God.”


--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster



New this week:



Tsunami brings God's family together
"When the need gets very great sometimes we need to reach a little deeper into our pockets and maybe rethink how much we can afford.  I know that if my family were involved I would send every penny.  So how much do I send because it is someone's family?  How much do we send because we are the family of God?"  From Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.



Five million people homeless in Asia
"Already one of the worst natural disasters in modern history, the situation is worsening for those whose lives were spared, with torrential rains hampering relief efforts, and safe drinking watpennylaneer and sanitation at a premium." A good roundup from the National Council of Churches USA.
Other links:
ELCA sends $150,000 to help initial relief efforts
LWR 'Wave of Giving' campaign gathers momentum
Resources from Church World Service



Stewardship Nuggets: New Year, New You!
"2005! The start of a new year is a good time for each of us to review our lives and to determine some area of needed personal growth. Speak with the children about making New Year's resolutions. Share with the children one way that you would like to grow personally in the New Year." Interesting column from Janet Zimmerman of the United Methodist Church Stewardship resources .



Resolutions Worth Keeping
How are you doing on those New Year's resolutions? So far so good? Here's an article that explores the surprising Pagan origins of this yearly custom, as well as how Christians through the ages have approached it. (Guess what the Puritans did!) "Many of us may have taken New Years Eve and New Years Day as God-given opportunities. We have taken at least a few minutes to reflect, pray, and dedicate ourselves anew to our Lord." From ChristianityToday.com. This week's recycling bin feature.



The 2004 Generosity Index

Who gives the most based on income? Well, it's the widows with their mites, according to the The Catalogue for Philanthropy's annual Generosity Index, which looks at IRS tax return statistics listing income and itemized deductions. Last in income, Mississippi is first in percentage giving. First in income, Connecticut is 47th.  Eye-opening reading from the Catalogue for Philanthropy.



Correction: This item is repeated from last week -- this time with the correct link.
5ways to beat the clock

Stewardship of your personal time -- it may be the first resource management priority. This article lists five tips for young adults, but they really apply to all of us. From Campus Life magazine.