04/30/2011 08:29 am ET | Updated Jun 30, 2011

After the Tornadoes: Prayers, Support and Hope in The Love of God

The clergy conference for the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama was scheduled to start this past Wednesday. We saw the dire predictions of the weather reporters and decided that we would proceed, hoping their warnings were exaggerated. As it turned out, with at least 300 killed, many more injured and incredible damage to homes and property, the forecast fell short of the reality. We cut the conference short and went back to work Thursday afternoon, many of us to communities and neighborhoods that are picking up the pieces.

On the way to Camp McDowell, Bishop Henry Parsley and several priests saw a tornado. I saw one years ago in the Mississippi Delta -- terrible and beautiful in its own way, and destructive beyond comprehension. The huge tornado that cut an ugly swath through Tuscaloosa and into North Birmingham was off our scales to measure the power and intensity of such events; now we are measuring it by human loss and suffering. There are no scales for that, just people grieving and coping the best they can.

Now faithful people need to make it make sense. Now preachers will start to tell us God is punishing us for our faithlessness and sinfulness. I want it to make sense, too, but it doesn't, not like that: I can't believe that our loving heavenly Father is so cruel or indifferent.

We are thankful for the gift of Creation, and surely nature created by God sustains our lives. I understand (a little, but enough) about weather fronts and barometric pressure, but that's no consolation to a neighbor who's lost a family member or a home. We can be with them, giving them food, clothing and shelter, offering our prayers and support, and -- best of all -- our hope in the love of God in Jesus Christ. After Good Friday comes Easter.