Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Ellenton Tornado: My Easter Sermon

Before work today, I did get a chance to attend my local 9 o'clock LDS Sacrament Meeting. I enjoyed a wonderful Easter Sunday service with a testimony and message from my Bishop and several Easter themed musical numbers by our ward choir. However, I think the most meaning full Easter Sermon I experienced actually happened the morning prior.

Sometime late Friday night January 10th into early Saturday morning January 11th, 2009 an F-3 Tornado tore a path from Beach Island, SC to New Ellenton, SC near Augusta, GA on the South Carolina-Georgia boarder. I happened to be working that night at the regional medical center in South Carolina and was helping to evaluation and treat some of the victims of the storm. There were several victims who were blessed to survive the tornadic winds that hurled their mobile homes through the air like soda cans before tearing them apart. In addition to loosing all their material possessions, the storm left many of them with lacerations, deep contusions, abrasions and a few broken bones. Among the victims, the mother of one New Ellenton family stood out.

Just before the New Ellenton tornado struck, this mother and her 3 daughters awoke to the ominous sound of a freight train and took cover in a central closet before their home disintegrated around them. To my surprise none of the 3 daughters, whose ages ranged from age 7 to age 14, had a bruise or scratch on them. But when it came time to examine mom, she had no obvious injuries until I lifted the back of her gown to inspect her back. While no bones were broken, the skin across her back was one large confluence of abrasion and bruising. And as I saw it, I could immediately picture in my mind the site of this dear mother hunkered down in that dark closet holding her precious babies in her arms protecting them from the ranging storm and shielding them from the scourging debris.

After the scene had faded from my imagination, I was speechless and awestruck for a moment after witnessing one of the great miracles of nature. And I was a little embarrassed trying my best to contain a bit of emotion that this brief experience had elicited. Witnessing this example of the love of a mother who would willingly use her own body to shield her children from the buffetings of the raging storm was just, Awesome.

At this Easter season, this mother's act of perfect charity reminded me at the same time of the greatest, most perfect and infinite act of charity. Just as this this New Ellenton mother had given her flesh and blood to save and protect her children, Jesus Christ also gave his flesh and blood to save all of us. And as several scriptures came to mind that night, I was amazed at how the prophets and Jesus Christ himself use this same storm motif and metaphor of protective arms to describe His perfect love for us.

Matt. 23: 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Alma 34: 16 And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.

Hel. 5: 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

D&C 104: 9 Inasmuch as ye are cut off for transgression, ye cannot escape the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption.

Alma 26: 6 Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.

Isa. 53: 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

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