Maritime Conference president Rev. Matthew Fillier sent this letter late last week in response to the fires in Fort McMurray.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Phillipians 4:6-7
Crisis causes confusion, panic, and terror all at once. Crisis sweeps us away on a current of fear and renders our best efforts as if they’re too little too late. It’s scary stuff to watch a city burn. Images of fire and devastation blow us away. The reality check that nature’s power is relentless and far greater than our daily lives imagine is a nightmare that Albertans are living through today.
But crisis doesn’t just knock us senseless and spiritless.
It can also remove the chaff that often divides us, revealing what really makes us whole and human.
As devastating as it is to watch fellow Canadians contend with a fire beyond the scale of even the Slave Lake disaster, the waters of justice and love continue to roll. Thousands of service personnel are putting themselves in harm’s way because it’s their sworn duty to do so. Neighbours who once locked their doors are opening them to strangers seeking shelter. People in ways great and small, are changing the choices that make up their daily lives to respond with prayer, with donations, with a helping hand. Even 3000km away in Nova Scotia, Relief Packages for Fort McMurray Wildfire Victims — Atlantic Canada was set up on Facebook, The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations online and over the phone, and Canadians across the country are calling Alberta Emergency Management Agency and offering service and support.
You and I have loved ones who live and work in this city and this province. I invite you to pray with me for their safety and that a city now filled with ash, may one day be filled with the promise of hope. Of this we can be certain, that our sisters in brothers in the wider church, and our United Church of Canada in particular, are in the middle of that crisis: opening church halls and homes, preparing food and drink, offering sanctuary for the spirit, and striving to be the face of Christ in the crisis.
I invite you to send a note of support and prayer to Alberta Conference (firstname.lastname@example.org).
While it may seem like a small act, we have always recognized the power of reminding one another that we are not alone. Sometimes recognizing that the crisis cannot consume the Christ in us is one of the most faithful things we can do as church. So in solidarity, in ways great and small, let us remind one another of what makes us human and not just Albertans or Maritimers but sisters and brothers united in Christ.
Rev. Matthew Fillier
President, Maritime Conference