Note from Chinook Winds Office: We know that many are concerned about the Wild Fires in Australia. Our province knows the destruction and heartache caused by fires as Helen Reed aptly describes in her reflection below that was first published on the Region’s Facebook Page.
The United Church of Canada’s Moderator Richard Bott has penned words to encourage our continued prayers for the people, animals and land of Australia.
It is possible to donate directly to the Uniting Church in Australia’s Disaster Relief Fund. As well, the Salvation Army in Canada is accepting donations for relief work in Australia.
A reflection by Helen Reed, Presiding Officer of Chinook Winds Region.
There are times in our lives, and our church lives, when we might find ourselves thinking that we don’t have enough to survive, that we need to care for our homes before we help others. We feel that we don’t have enough, that we deserve better.
This Sunday at Oyen United Church we were reminded that, when disaster strikes across the globe, it is still in our home. We heard a personal story from a family that has family members in Australia. We heard that there is at least one more family in our community with the same. All of a sudden the rampant fires of Australia become ours. The people who are in danger are ours.
We remember, from our own experience, how it feels to be so close to a fire that is out of control because, on September 11, 2017, a grass fire started on CFB Suffield in southeastern Alberta that then spread beyond the military base. It burned an estimated 36,500 hectares — nearly half the size of Calgary. Cattle were killed, farmers saw their livelihood disappear.
We remember how it feels to be asked to leave our communities to be safe, to not know when we should go back, to know when we must leave our stubborn behind so that we can be safe. We remember the courage and bravery of firefighters who put their lives in danger to save people and their stuff — sometimes losing their own in the process. We remember the Kenow Fire, also in 2017, that affected the southwestern part of Alberta and devastated our Canyon Church Camp as well as the 2016 Wildfire that affected Fort MacMurray.
As we look at what is happening now to a whole country, can we even comprehend that what we experienced is multiplied thousandfold?
This isn’t just across the world. This affects our community, as loved ones watch and wait and pray for the safety of all those who lose homes, livelihoods, cattle, and more. Canada is sending firefighters to be part of the fight in Australia… another opportunity for us to be connected.
How can we help? How can we support? How can we care? These are our neighbours… how can we love them?
On Sunday, we heard words from Isaiah 60:1-6 words of hope offered to a people returning home after disasters to a home that was destroyed and we thought….. In the darkness of sorrow, of coming home to find it damaged beyond repair, the prophet brings in a tiny light of Hope. That sliver of possibility that something can be built out of the disaster is what leads the people forward into the future the prophet sees that those who have been dispersed will re-gather, there will be joy, and people will again bring gifts and praise to God. May we find a way to offer hope to this part of the world in need.