Remembering the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami

Some preachers will be looking beyond Christmas to Sunday, 28 December, and may be planning to mark the 10th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami which devastated so many families and communities in the Pacific region.

The following hymn was written in the days immediately following the tsunami and I felt privileged to be contacted by Christians in the region who said that it had been helpful for them to use as they struggled to cope with both the event and its aftermath.

It was one of those occasions when the cheap throwaway idea that the only response is to praise God sounds so hollow. Part of the reality of being human is to be able to share the pain of others, as Christ did, and yet hold on to faith. That’s what gave the last lines of this hymn their authenticity for me: to whom else would we turn if not Jesus Christ?

When innocence is fractured

by nature’s shifting force,

and paradise is ruptured

as life is swept off course,

we come to pray our questions,

we come to share our grief;

in this, our act of worship,

to say that we believe.


As headlines overwhelm us

and make us close our minds;

as news from distant islands

brings death before our eyes

we seek a hope to cling to,

a refuge to embrace;

lest in the grip of knowing

we lose our hold on grace.


How dare we speak of heaven

made human for our sakes,

or preach a loving Father

when seas and mountains quake?

We dare because our story

speaks of a love that came

to bear the cost of dying

and still would do the same.


In Christ our souls take refuge,

though not to hide from truth:

we face each anguished question

with faith, if not with proof.

We hear his wistful question:

“And will you leave me too?”

Though all the world should crumble,

We hope, O Christ, in you.

Recommended tune: Aurelia

Copyright © Gareth Hill Publishing/Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square, Uckfield, TN22 1QG

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