Post-Sandy Thanksgivings

Episcopal Relief & Development has been working with Church partners in the Caribbean and along the US East Coast to mobilize local resources and provide immediate relief to those most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The Rev. Luke Fodor is the Assistant Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, located in Long Island, NY, reflects on events with a Thanksgiving message. 

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy one passage of scripture has been resounding in my head as I drive around.  It is the same scripture that the Book of Common Prayer suggests for burials: Isaiah 61:1-3, which reads:

 

   The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
           because the LORD has anointed me;
   he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
           to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim liberty to the captives,
           and release to the prisoners;
   to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
           and the day of vengeance of our God;
           to comfort all who mourn;
   to provide for those who mourn in Zion--
           to give them a garland instead of ashes,
   the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
           the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
   They will be called oaks of righteousness,
           the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.

 

It is that last line, “They will be called oaks of righteousness…” that brings this passage to life before my eyes.  Throughout Long Island and in particular on the North Shore of Long Island, where I minister, these once mighty oaks lay upon cars, houses and power lines. 

This sight has produced in me the same mixture of emotions I feel at burials:  a deep sense of loss and an abiding thankfulness.  Superstorm Sandy took so many lives, damaged so many homes and stole many livelihoods—leaving millions of people feeling cold, alone and vulnerable.  At the same time, I give thanks for the sense of community that has emerged from the storm: neighbors checking in on neighbors, people sharing resources and friends housing friends.  I also give thanks that Sandy disrupted our lives, prompting us to realize what’s truly important, and it’s not comfort, it’s not our property, and it’s not our jobs, but it is all the people surrounding us in our lives. 

For Thanksgiving Day, as we collectively sit down to give thanks for God’s providence and the abundant harvest, let us also be thankful for Sandy—even as we mourn its effects on the lives of the most vulnerable.  Let us be thankful that we were not more sorely affected by the storm.  Let us be thankful for all of the first responders and those communities who have supported each other.  Let us be thankful for the learnings the storm brought us and the way in which it has opened our hearts to serve the most vulnerable in our communities during this time of emergency recovery. 

May Christ’s Spirit be upon us so that we might bring good news to the oppressed, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and comfort all who mourn.  And when it does, we can be sure that each of those fallen oak trees in our communities, will indeed be replaced by our lives as we stand tall and become oaks of righteousness.  Today let us share our thankfulness and participate in bringing Christ’s healing to this hurting world.

http://www.er-d.org/Hurricane-Sandy-Caribbean-East-Coast-Oct-2012

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The Rev. Luke Fodor is Assistant Rector for Children and Family Ministries at St. John's Episcopal Church in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. He formerly served as the Network Coordinator at Episcopal Relief & Development from 2007 to 2011.

Photo: Sebastian Anthony, Flickr cc, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrseb/3917134955/

 

 

 

 

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