“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.
Petitions for the triple litany in the Service of Thanksgiving:
Being mercifully delivered from fire, O Almighty Lord, we, your faithful people, give you thanks that, reaching out your hand of providential care, you stayed the devouring tongues of flame and protected us from destruction; and now preserve us always from the threat of fire, both temporal and eternal, we pray you, All-merciful Lord, hear us and have mercy.
O Lord, who rained fire out of heaven for the destruction of evil, we thank you that you have shown mercy on us, overlooking our sins and shielding us from the path of blazing fire, turning aside its scorching lines and preserving us unharmed. Guard us always by your might, keeping us untouched by the visible flames of material fire, and unharmed by the invisible flames of passion, quenching the wrath of both; we pray you, hear us and have mercy.
Lord Jesus Christ our God, the living fire of deity who enlivens and enlightens the faithful, yet who are, to the ungodly, a consuming fire burning the straw and chaff of impiety: in the beginning, you created the solar fire, to give warmth and light for the sustenance of our life. In wisdom and beneficence, you made material fire as a gift and necessary implement for mankind and nature, which alike destroys and consumes, yet also clears and renews, the forests and meadows. We thank you that, disregarding our sins, you have had mercy on us and preserved us safe from fire’s unruly excesses, curbing its insatiate appetite and steering its path away from harming us. Grateful for your mercy towards us, we return to you thanks, praise, and glory, entreating that you will always send your Angel to preserve your temple and our homes unharmed by consuming fire. And as you came to send a spiritual fire on the earth, warming chill hearts and enkindling in them the fire of love for you, we pray that you will melt our hard-heartedness in the furnace of your love, extinguishing within us the flames of passion, refining us in the fire of trial yet recasting us anew as vessels of the Spirit, bearing the dew of your grace. For you preserved the holy children in the fiery furnace, and you were the fire that dwelled within the Virgin’s womb, yet preserving it unburnt. So we pray you: by her intercessions, and those of St Herman and all the saints, let the fire of your Spirit burn within our hearts, renewing us, and through us, all mankind. This we ask, trusting in you, with your eternal Father, and your all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.