Saturday, November 9, 2019

Fires in Australia, California....

Devastating bushfires are impacting communities in Queensland and New South Wales in Australia. There are also huge wildfires in California. In the European summer, Northern Spain faced its largest forest fires in two decades as the heat wave across much of Europe wreaked havoc. The lack of rain, and the escalating temperatures, mean things are tinder dry. Whether deliberately lit, or a result of lightning strikes, fires are exhausting firefighters and volunteers struggling to bring the fires under control.
The multiple fires in New South Wales (Australia) can be seen from space. The Rural Fire Service in NSW said firefighters were in "uncharted territory" and at the peak of the crisis, a record 17 blazes burned simultaneously at emergency level. More than 50 other blazes across NSW remain out of control.The property loss is substantial, with house after house in some places burnt to the ground.
Mid-Coast Council Mayor David West said, “I’m looking out of my office window and all I see is what I’m assuming people in London saw during the Second World War — it’s a horrible, horrible sight".
Climate change, or climate acceleration, is playing a part in the dramatic increase in fires, and needs to be addressed by global leaders. Recently, 11,000 scientists endorsed a global 'climate emergency' declaration, based on an analysis of more than 40 years of data on measures such as population, surface temperature, carbon emissions and deforestation.

New South Wales fires seen from space
Our prayers are with families and communities, the fire fighters and emergency workers, for those living with the reality of property loss.

What cannot be said will be wept (a quote attributed to Sappho)
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record? (Psalm 56: 8)
O God, when words fail
hear our weeping.
Hear our weeping,
treasure our tears,
answer our cry. Amen.
(Source: Rev Gal Blog Pals website)

When Human Voices Cannot Sing
1. When human voices cannot sing
and human hearts are breaking,
we bring our grief to you, O God
who knows our inner aching.

2. Set free our spirits from all fear –
the cloud of dark unknowing,
and let the light, the Christ-light show
the pathway of our going.
(Words: Shirley Murray,  (*v 3&4 omitted); tune: St Columba

We pray for those affected – for courage, strength, patience, resilience and hope, to face the days and weeks and months ahead, even when the story no longer has media attention.
We give thanks for firefighters and emergency service personnel, police officers and ambulance officers, who work together to fight the wildfire and support residents.
We pray for those who must undertake the grim search for those who have died...
We pray for those who have lost homes when this fire took all in its path - homes of the rich and famous, and ordinary people who have invested their savings into their homes.
In amongst the grief, anger, loss and confusion, and unspeakable sorrow, we give thanks that so many people of goodwill are offering practical support in this time of great need.
We give thanks that the God we know in Jesus Christ journeys with us and remains with us all the days of our life, even through the dark valleys and times of sorrow and lament. Amen.
(Rev Cathie Lambert, 2011, adapted)

A Prayer for all those affected by the bush fires in New South Wales and Queensland.
Loving God, our hearts are joined with the trials and sufferings of all affected by the bush fires. Protect those in the path of danger. Open the pathway of evacuation. Help loved ones to find one another in the chaos. Provide assistance to those who need help. Where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Ease the fears of all and make your presence known in the stillness of your peace.
O God, we commend to your loving keeping, all who work to bring rescue and relief, especially the firefighters, police, paramedics, medical personnel, and volunteers, – all who are helping. Give them courage in danger, skill in difficulty, and compassion in service. Sustain them with bodily strength and calmness of mind that they may perform their work to the well-being of those in need so that lives may be saved and communities restored.
Loving Lord, we come to you trusting in your mercy and knowing that your steadfast love endures forever. Comfort those who have been harmed or displaced by this disaster. Grant them your strength to meet the days ahead. Allow them to experience your peace, and grant them hope to face the future. Move in those who are able to give aid, that we may be your hands and heart on the earth.

Prayer adapted from Lutheran Disaster Response, Upstate NY

the view from the kitchen sink

fires advancing on a nursing home

the beach.... Port Macquarie

the sky turns orange
God, we know that you kindle
hearts and not bush,
and that you walk with us
into the deepest fires
as you did in the long-ago Bible story
of the three faithful ones,

This day we ask for your grace,
your courage, and your strength
to surround all those
who are fighting the bush fires
in New South Wales and Queensland.

Give comfort
to those who grieve loss of life.
Give hope of rebuilding
to those whose farms are destroyed,
and homes are demolished.
Give ease of fear
for children whose schools
have burned or closed for danger.
Hold in tenderness
those who count the losses
of more than three hundred koalas.

In dry bush and high wind, O Holy One,
whisper your word of peace.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

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