NSW Bushfires 2001/2002 Prayers & reflections for home and parish

 

Faith amidst the Flames

 

‘Thanks for your prayers. We have a black landscape out the back of our house. Yesterday we waited as the fire came from the gully. We joined with about fifteen neighbours to stop the flames reaching

our home. No one in our immediate area lost any property. We are most fortunate as there are so

many people who have.’ - Email from a Blue Mountains resident

 

‘I’m the luckiest man alive. My family is safe.’ - Words of a man whose family home has been burnt to the ground

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Once again, in the midst of a scorching summer, Australians are called upon to battle the devastating effect of bushfires.

It is a time of hardship and sacrifice.

But we are not alone in this struggle. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, a name which means: 'God-is-with-us'.

Jesus came to show us that God is always with us:

in our suffering,

in our hope,

in so many tangible acts of goodwill and salvation which fill our lives.

The Saviour who was born in Bethlehem is the same Saviour who died on a cross, and who rose to new life.

As the Christmas season draws to a close, let us gather to remember and proclaim our faith as we pray 'Our God is with us':

(All respond:)

'Our God is with us.'

We pray for those who are fighting fires: the fire-brigades and the many volunteers and agencies who assist their efforts. We thank God for those who risk their own lives for the salvation of others as we pray:

Our God is with us.

We pray for those burdened by unimaginable losses and who have found themselves like refugees in their own locality. We thank God for the many gestures of practical aid and the emotional and spiritual support offered by the Australian community as we pray:

Our God is with us.

At a time like this we stand in awe of the power of the elements - fire, wind and water - with the capacity to destroy as well as to save, and we are reminded of our vulnerability as human creatures who inhabit the vast Australian landscape. We come before our Creator with humility and trust in our hour of need as we pray:

Our God is with us.

Knowing that bushfires are often the result of arson, we come before God painfully aware of the presence of evil and sickness in the world. We ask to be fortified in God's unquenchable love and justice as we seek the most appropriate response to wrongdoing. We pray:

Our God is with us.

We give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives, especially the gifts we so often take for granted until they are in danger of being taken from us: the gift of family, friends, a home, our possessions. Most of all we praise God for the gift of life itself as we pray:

Our God is with us.

We pray for people all over the world affected by natural disasters, often of mammoth proportions. By meeting our own hardships with hope we join in solidarity and faith with the whole human family as we pray:

Our God is with us.

We pray for....

(Continue with your own prayers of thanksgiving and petition)

Our God is with us.

Close with a prayer or song which holds special meaning for your

family/community at this time.

 

 

Some ways to use this prayer sheet:

At the start or end of a family meal

At a parish gathering

With any group of friends or neighbours. Adapt the material as necessary.

Add symbols to your sacred space: Two blackened sticks in the form of a cross. Or a symbol of hope such as a bowl of water, a green leaf. Or a symbol of sacrifice like a firefighter's helmet, a crucifix.

As you pray, bring to mind specific names, faces, communities affected by bushfires at this time.

As an extension of this prayer time, is there a practical gesture this family/community could make to

assist victims of bushfire?

 

 

A publication of The Story Source, 1st Jan 2002.

This material may be freely reproduced for non-commercial use.