Overseas Lutheran church leaders have expressed their sympathy, support and prayers for members of the LCA/NZ in the midst of the bushfire crisis in Australia.
Among those to write to LCA Bishop John Henderson in recent days have been Bishop Sani-Ibrahim Azar of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and Rev Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Bishop Azar’s letter says:
Dear Bishop Henderson,
Salaam and grace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy and compassion to the Lutheran Church of Australia and people of Australia who have suffered greatly due to the deadly wildfires that have swept throughout the country damaging property, taking the lives of many and destroying God’s creation.
From Jerusalem, we pray to the Almighty God to give you strength to overcome this crisis and loss. ‘God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble’ (Psalm 46:1).
We share in our Christian belief that God is with you during these devastating times.
Your Brother in Christ
Bishop Sani-Ibrahim Azar
Presiding Bishop Eaton writes:
Dear Bishop John,
Epiphany is a time when we seek and see the light of the Christ revealed to the nations. But we are saddened that the light of wildfires, engulfing many parts of Australia and casting an eerie glow over the landscape, is overwhelming life there.
We know that drought and fire are not unknown in Australia, much like in some parts of the United States. However, in Australia, we are observing an unprecedented time of intense temperatures and drought in an environment that only fuels greater fires. Not only is this something that is difficult for many of us to comprehend, it also raises fear for what may portend for all of us in the midst of climate change. We are seeing lives lost, the health of many more affected, and the fires destroying and endangering homes of people and wildlife. Into all this, the safety of firefighters and other responders are put at risk.
We cry out:
O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. (Isaiah 33:2)
In this time of great trouble, together with members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I offer my prayers for comfort and peace for all who suffer, are bereaved, or who are anxious. I offer my prayers for help and strength from our Lord to be upon those who combat these fires and those who lead affected communities. I offer my prayers for the Holy Spirit to continue to be with you as bishop in the church of Christ and all leaders as you lead the people through this time of distress.
May the light of Christ bring hope and strength to you.
In Christ’s peace,
The Rev Elizabeth Eaton