The past seven days have been stressful and confusing for our community. The constant changing path of Hurricane Ian was a rollercoaster of emotions. One day we were in the bullseye followed by all clear the next day. In the end, Saint Nicholas once again interceded for our safety to God, and God spared us another disaster.
What was good for Tarpon Springs ended up being catastrophic for our neighbors to the south in Ft Myers and Naples and other areas of Florida. Walls of water and severe winds destroyed entire neighborhoods and several have unfortunately lost their lives. It makes you think. What would have happened if the storm had come to Tarpon Springs like once predicted? We must be more than thankful. We must now be generous.
As the Gospel today challenges us, “As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6.31) Christ continues, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” (Luke 6.35) This Gospel challenge is perfect for today’s reality.
It goes without saying that we would want others to come to our aid if we had been destroyed by Hurricane. We MUST then go to their aid, and we must never ask for anything in return. That is what the Gospel calls us to this week. Saint Nicholas has been our protector for generations. We are obligated by our love for God and Saint Nicholas to be the hope for others during disasters.
I have requested the Parish Council establish a “Hurricane Ian Relief Fund.” We ‘kicked off’ the fund on Thursday evening during our Doxology and Divine Liturgy. You will be hearing more about the relief fund in the coming days and weeks. Once our brothers and sisters in Ft Myers and Naples and other affected communities let us know the specific needs, we will be ready to help!
I invite you to consider how you will be able to help. There will be many opportunities from ‘getting dirty’ to help clean, to digging deep into your pockets to help rebuild. We will all be asked to do something, maybe more than one thing. Now is our chance to express our thanks by helping those in need, and expect nothing in return.