This week’s post is by the Rev. Liz Gray and was originally published here. As teams on the ground in Jacksonville prepare for a big weekend of outreach (Oct 13 & 17), Liz’s reflection reminds us of the people behind the headlines.
Last week, my husband Simon and I went on a few days vacation. It was soooo delightful – we went to the beach and we walked, laughed, relaxed, ate good food. All those things we do when we’re away.
But it was hard not to be aware that we had unintentionally arrived in the middle of a time of high drama. Every person we met was buzzing with the latest news, weather report or statement from the Governor. Yup – we had landed up in the potential path of Hurricane Irma. We were told we would have to leave – immediately – well, tomorrow – OK, we could stay one more day… and then another, as Irma gradually shifted her trajectory and we were in the clear.
We could choose how long to stay. We knew we could get in our car, with plenty of notice and just – drive. And we’d soon be back to normalcy and safety. We could watch the news with interest, but without undue personal concern. We didn’t have to worry about small children, pets, photo albums, our home what momentos of our lives to save. We didn’t face the loss of our history and possessions.
So different for so many others – all those whose homes were about to be destroyed, who had struggled to rescue precious memories as Harvey loomed and then barreled through; who had watched the coming of Irma with dread and alarm.
It was so easy for us to delight in the beauty of the beach and the sunsets, the dolphins and the pelicans. So easy for us to arrive and then to leave. But now, I have met people, I’ve talked to them and heard their fear, and now it is Bob, Rhonda, David, Susan, Derrick not just faces but people. And so here I am scouring the news. Looking for pictures. Reading about flooding. Tornadoes. Hail. Storm surges. All just where we were 2 days ago….
And so how can we respond?
We can pray for those affected – our neighbors, all those we hear of or see on TV clips. Pray for churches and leaders, for first responders, helicopter pilots and for journalists. Pray for the drivers of the endless electricity emergency vehicles we passed on the road heading down to Florida as we were driving up I95. Pray for those you know, for those you don’t. Ask for God’s mercy to extend through this traumatic time.
And we can give. As a church we have donated $6,000 through ARDF for their hurricane response. You can read more about how they are using the funds given here. I am so grateful to our vestry and to the Outreach Steering team who think so carefully about where we as a church community will give our money. And thankful to you for all giving so generously so that we can respond when there is need.
It can be easy just to watch. But as you do, why not pause for a moment and step into the shoes of the person on the screen – and ask God to make them a person not a face to you, then pray – whether it be a tragedy in Mexico, South Asia or just a few hundred miles away, watch and pray. – Liz
Specifically pray for the teams from Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida who will be gathering in mid October 2017 to help the folks in St. Johns County, specifically Flagler Estates, an especially hard hit area where the residents have limited means.