September 10, 2020
Siblings in Christ’s Love,
If you haven’t been evacuated yourself, I expect most of you have a personal connection to someone who has been affected by the wildfires in Oregon, California, Washington, and Idaho (not to mention the fires in the rest of our beloved West).
Like you, I spent some of the day yesterday on the phone with colleagues and loved ones, checking in, scrutinizing fire maps, and asking, “Really? There’s fire there?!” What a great and unfortunate reminder for us all to be always ready for disaster. Such an incredible example of our neighbors and communities looking to our church buildings and church people in time of real need!Many of you know that one of our families in Oregon Synod key leadership, Pastor Christine Core and her husband John Core, lost their home along the McKenzie River Monday evening. Please hold them in the light of Christ as they move out of shock into the reality of all that this means, along with all others who are now displaced, on alert, fighting fires, sheltering and serving others, or at risk or at work in some related, life-giving way.
Whether or not we are directly affected, we are breathing the smoke, watching the strangely beautiful-terrible sunsets, or feeling the doom of a red sky. If you are not in harm’s way, as you close your windows against the smoke, use it as a reminder of your connections to our loved ones in the midst of the fires. Or as you breathe in the smoky air, breathe in God’s love and presence and as you breathe out, send that love to the world or to others you picture in your mind. We are all held in a lap of divine love that envelopes us like the atmosphere we can now clearly see.If you are one who has been evacuated, please stay safe and feel our prayers and love holding you.
We can’t help but know we’re in this together.If you or your church are offering housing, parking lot space or direct service of any kind, please email Jan Wierma and the Oregon Synod Disaster Preparedness Team. They will be well served by learning what is the reality on the ground where you are, and how you are helping to meet the need. Even knowing a ballpark number of volunteer hours will help that team help Oregon access much needed funds with FEMA and elsewhere.
I’ve been asked by a few people where they should send money. Thank you so much for your generosity! Region One of the ELCA is creating a link to a direct support fund as we speak. You will receive more information on that very soon.
For now, I ask that you take collections in your home church, and hold onto the money until we can discern where it can be best used. Your spirit of generosity and love matters tremendously in times like this. Your prayers are being felt by our loved ones throughout the synod. Your texts and phone calls and emails mean a lot. We are Light for one another in the smoky haze.
Stay safe. Stay strong.
The Beloved is our refuge and our strength,
a loving Presence in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not fear
though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though the waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.