Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

February 23, 2020: Sent

From Paul Turley

If you don’t live in Australia and if you don’t know your way around the country, you could be forgiven if you thought that during January the entire country was on fire. While that is not quite true, huge areas of countryside have been burned: 12.35 million hectares of Australian country has burned this summer so far. For U.S. readers, that is an area approximately the size of the U.S. states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

While those of us in other parts of the country and the world have watched in horror and in fear that, given our changing climate, our region might be next, people from across the country and across the world have rushed to help people in those areas that have been devastated .

The firefighting force in Australia is almost exclusively volunteer run, with a national strength of more than 200,000 people who, with a moment’s notice leave work and business to crew fire trucks and pumps across vast distances. This ratio of 90% volunteers to 10% paid staff is, according to the New York Times, unmatched in any other developed country where wildfires rage.

Alongside those who have been and are fighting the fires in Australia are countless stories of people helping each other out, giving where they can and offering stranded people shelter.

In a nation where our official position on refugees and asylum seekers has been condemned by many within and without the country, including the United Nations, one story offers itself as an epiphany for this week that concludes the church season of Epiphany.

Kathy Mikkelsen, a musician was with her family in the small coastal town of Mallacoota, in the far south-east of the country. She was there to perform at a New Year’s Eve concert. With the fires burning towards the small town, Kathy and her family evacuated to Tathra only to have to evacuate again when a warning of approaching fire came through at 3.30 a.m.

Six adults, six children and three dogs – her family as well as her friends’ families – then made their way to Bega, where they got stuck. Concerned about protecting their children from falling embers, they started to erect a camp in the underground car park of the local supermarket.

Ibrahim, a newly-arrived Sudanese refugee who was working at his job collecting shopping carts at the supermarket, stopped them and offered his home for the night – a tiny flat above the shops.

“He found us all beds and his girlfriend cooked us all a big meal,” Mikkelsen wrote on Facebook. “We sheltered there the night and played music with the only instruments we had, a recorder, a ukulele, some spoons and two flashlights for the light show. Ibrahim and his girlfriend told us it was the best New Year’s Eve they had ever had.”

Explore…Matthew 17:1–9

  • Why do you think the Transfiguration is an important story in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke)?
  • Why do you think it doesn’t appear in the Gospel of John?
  • If you were to design a transfiguration moment, which two people, historically important to your faith community, would appear alongside Jesus?

God of wonder, you invite us in all ways and at all times to glimpse the deep mystery of our lives and your presence with us.
On this Transfiguration Sunday, may we be open to experience all the wonders you have for us. Amen.

Learn more...
At least 24 people and millions of animals killed by bushfires
Australia fires: a visual guide
Australia’s volunteer firefighters are heroes. But are they enough?


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