On Sunday in the Orthodox Church, we will commemorate the Great Earthquake in Constantinople in 740 CE. We will sing the following Kontakion:
Deliver us all from upheavals, and from terrible afflictions caused by our sins, O Lord, and spare thy people whom Thou hast purchased with Thy blood, O Master! Do not deliver Thy city to destruction by terrible earthquakes, for we know no other God but Thee; and to those who cry out Thou dost respond: “I am with you, and no one will be against you.” (text credit: web site of the Orthodox Church in America).
It is quite tempting to question the relevance of singing such a historically-conditioned hymn. It makes sense for those of us who live near fault lines; the threat of a serious earthquake in Southern California is always present. Personally, I think one can glean a theme of petitioning God for mercy when a catastrophe is possible. Natural disasters should remind us that life is fragile, and that all of our petitions should be preceded by sincere thanksgiving, “for God is with us.”