“The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their refuge in the time of trouble.” [Ps. 37:39]
I received a phone call the two days ago informing me of the dangerous situation in Tyonek. A fire was burning out of control and threatening the village and its residents. Being ordered to evacuate, they took their valuable possessions and the Sacred items from the St. Nicholas Church and left their homes and church in the hands of the brave firefighters and the loving care of God. I am sure there were many prayers said by those devoted Orthodox Christians for a good outcome to the situation.
While I am away on vacation, visiting my children in Maryland and Pennsylvania, I was grateful for the information and I prayed for God’s intercession in the difficult and dangerous fire. I invoked our heavenly patrons of the Parish and of the Diocese, St. Nicholas and St. Herman to intercede for the good people of Tyonek, and also for the fire fighters who put their own lives in harm’s way for the benefit of the residents. I am very grateful to God for the sparing of the village of Tyonek, and all it represents for us. I am grateful for the gift of heavenly protection that God and the saints have provided so that no life was lost in the struggle to save Tyonek. I am also grateful for the many wildlands firefighters for their dedication to duty and heroic attitude in battling all the fires that plague our state.
We believe that God answers prayers, but we do not believe that prayer is “magic”, in other words, we do not believe that just because we asked for God’s help in this situation that that is the only reason Tyonek was spared. But we do believe that what we did helped. It helped the firefighters in their battle, it helped the residents in their evacuation, it helped the church in its role as the source of Salvation for all those who pray there. So, we must continue to pray for the continued protection of God and strength for those who fight these fires.
Therefore, I ask that in all our Parishes in the Diocese of Alaska on this coming Sunday, a brief Molieben of Thanksgiving be offered in Thanksgiving for the saving of our church and the village it serves, and for the continued help in the other situations where fire threatens our state. If there are any firefighters among our faithful, please include them by name during the Molieben. I will offer my prayers of Thanksgiving during the Divine services at St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary as we pray during the graduation and Pilgrimage here.
I will ask Fr. Juvenaly to compose a prayer and have it sent to all the clergy of our Diocese and on our website.