We do not need to go far to see a devastating impact of disaster as described in chapter 1 of Joel. If there was any supply left after the invasion of great locusts, then the young locusts and other locusts would come (Joel 1:4) and the land became bare and wasted.
The university town of Lismore, with a population of over 40,000, is a central hub for the Northern Rivers region of NSW. The city suffered from serious floods and inundation first on February 28 and then on March 30. The hope of rebuilding the town was hit hard by the second flood. In the minds of many locals, the choice is either rebuild or relocate.
The leaders of the Southern Cross Presbyterian Church (SCPC) in Lismore called for prayers and quiet reflections in the face of challenges. That is exactly what Joel asked leaders and God’s people to do at the time of loss, grief and despair. The leaders at SCPC knew that only a community of faith thriving in the Lord can be a beacon of hope for the Lismore community.
Pastor Stew of SCPC came to Sydney with a young leader and shared their needs with some of our leaders at CPC in late March. Would SCPC be able to provide pastoral care and affirm God’s love for the Lismore community despite a big drop in their offertory? Praise the Lord that many of us at CPC share their vision and have responded generously. Indeed, their actions of praying, seeking before the Lord, and focusing on the wider community are a great example for us.
At CPC, there has been increasing number of infections among our members and it brings isolation and limitation. And there have been constant changes and uncertainty to cope with. Let’s learn from our brothers and sisters at SCPC and extend our care not only to members at CPC and our relatives but also our local community, the new migrant families and students from Hong Kong who have gone through unrest and political changes in recent years.
“Let us pray to the Lord,
who is our refuge and stronghold.
For the health and well-being of our nation,
that all who are fearful and anxious
may be at peace and free from worry:
For the isolated and housebound,
that we may be alert to their needs,
and care for them in their vulnerability:
For our homes and families,
our schools and young people,
and all in any kind of need or distress:
For a blessing on our local community,
that our neighborhoods may be places of trust and friendship,
where all are known and cared for”
Lord, “We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.”
Prayers are extracted from https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches/coronavirus-covid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources