A Pastoral Letter from the Moderator in the Midst of the Bushfires
Dear Friends across our Synod,
We are watching, compelled by the apocalyptic images of these fires which fill our screens, fires we had once believed were impossible. After the horrors of the last few weeks, we had hoped that Christmas brought a change, but the reality is otherwise.
The fires we had seen in the north and west of our state and in South Australia, are now rampaging south into the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, and throughout the Mallee in Victoria.
I have been talking with Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson, who coordinates Disaster Response for the whole Uniting Church. We have Chaplains at each Evacuation Centre, the numbers of which are growing, as people flee their holidays and their homes to comparative safety.
At this moment, I am calling all of us, particularly those who are safe, to pray for everyone in the path of these fires, and whose lives and property are at risk of harm:
- people from all walks of life, who fear for themselves, their homes, and those they love
- communities facing harm, unsure of how to act, but trusting in each other despite their fear
- those who fight the fires, with expertise, or desperation, or both
- animals of all description, caught in the paths of this blaze, uncomprehending in their fear and flight
- the creation, bearing the costs of drought and a changing climate
- those who staff evacuation centres, and who are offering food and shelter, clothing and reassurance, games for children and conversation for those who need it - a presence of gentleness despite the trauma
- communities of faith, bearing witness in word and action to a God who loves and saves, and knows each person by name.
I know that many people and congregations are already praying. Many have acted to support those for whom we pray in a range of ways. Please keep praying – for hope, for shelter, for safety, for rain.
These are difficult days, and there are more difficult days to come.
Christmas asserts that we shall know Jesus’ name as Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus is our hope that God is with us in every circumstance, and never more than when all else appears at risk.
I commend you all to prayer, in the promise of Jesus Christ,
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Rev. Simon Hansford
Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW & ACT