Monday, May 9, 2016

Prayer for Fort McMurray

   Along with the rest of the country, our congregation has watched the images of the tragedy unfolding in Fort McMurray this past week.  As fellow Canadians, our hearts ache for the nearly 90,000 people who've been evacuated, fleeing for their lives before the monster fire, leaving their homes in the knowledge there may be nothing left when they return.
    At SPPC we feel a particular connection to Fort Mac because that was Rev. Irwin's previous congregation.  His sermons are peppered with Fort Mac stories.  The children were all born there. He and Diane have many dear friends still living in the area.
    Elizabeth, who often graces our worship with her music, is from Fort McMurray.  Her parents still live there.  At last report, they are safe, but in separate locations.  Her mother has made it to Edmonton and is staying with relatives.  Her father is at the Syncrude site.  He and his crew are working to shut down the plant in case the fire reaches it.  (The latest news is that Syncrude is now shut down, so he has also been evacuated.)
    Our immediate response is to want to help.  We would love to reach out from our congregation to the Presbyterian congregation in Fort Mac with personal gifts and compassion.  However, that is not the most effective way.  Organizing the transport of goods and materials is costly and time-consuming.  Our best means of assisting is through the Red Cross.  Not only are they on the ground with organized distribution centres and an army of volunteers, but every dollar you give to the Red Cross will be matched by the federal government.  You can donate on-line here, or go to the Red Cross office, 909 Fairfield Road, Victoria, BC V8V 3A3, Phone:(250) 382-2043,
 PWS&D is also accepting donations marked for Fort McMurray.  Here's the link.
   You can also read the letter from the minister of Faith Presbyterian.  At latest report all of the congregation is safe, although scattered.  There is also a letter from the Moderator.

   We can also pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the glory of this world, for forests and meadows and vast skies.  We acknowledge Your power and majesty.  We know that even the winds and waves obey Your command.  In the face of forest fire, we pray for rain. 
We pray for the fire-fighters.
 Give them courage and strength and determination to battle on until all are safe and the task complete.
We give thanks for police, paramedics, and military personnel who risk their lives to serve their community and their fellow citizens.
We ask that You bless the people of small towns like Lac LaBiche and Boyle and Athabasca who have reached out in compassion to the tide of evacuees washing into their communities.  People pulling together to offer refreshment, a bed, a shower, and comfort to bewildered, frightened strangers. 

We thank You for the generous souls who hand out coffee and muffins and gasoline to those stranded along the roads.
We give thanks that no lives have been lost to the fire.
Dear Lord, sustain and comfort our neighbours in Fort McMurray, give them resilience, faith and hope.
We ask all this in Jesus' name.  Amen

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