The Word on the Week

Ophelia and Brian

The week started with hurricane Ophelia and ended it with hurricane Brian!
Ophelia came at us from the South producing some of the highest wind speeds ever recorded and Brian came out of the West laden with rain!
It is hard to get into perspective the force of Ophelia. It produced the biggest wave ever recorded off the Irish coast. It measured 17.81 M (58.4 feet) or the height of a six storey building. The mooring buoy which recorded this data was torn from its moorings some time later. Four other buoys were cast adrift. They are managed by the Marine Institute and help to validate the weather forecast models run by Met Éireann providing guidance to the national emergency planning efforts.
The storm passed straight up the country, from South to North causing devastation in its wake. The wind speed recorded at Fastnet lighthouse, as it was about to hit the southern shore was 190 km (118 mph).
Along with hurricane-force winds, the storm has caused red skies in England and wildfires in the Iberian Peninsula! Cyclonic winds kicked up dust from the North African Sahara, spraying sand into the English sky. From there, the desert dust scattered the sun’s rays into longer wavelengths, giving the sky an eerie, somewhat-apocalyptic hue.
The wildfires in Spain on Sunday were fanned by powerful winds as Ophelia brushed the coast. At least 32 people have been killed, and the sky was filled with a toxic mix of ash and smoke.
Back in Ireland three people died in storm related incidents and almost 300,000 properties were without power. Public transport came to a halt and the schools were closed on Monday and Tuesday. The countryside was strewn with fallen trees and the sound of the chainsaw was everywhere. Any loose corrugated iron roofing was removed by the gale; the sheets of iron being tossed around like giant playing cards.
Just when things were getting back to normal Brian has arrived. He is more like what we are accustomed to – plenty of rain and a gentler storm force wind!
There has been a lot of sky gazing this week as people tried to read the weather signs. Some, of a more prophetic inclination, were looking for “great signs from heaven” as St Luke puts it in his Gospel (Chapter 21 verse 11).
In St Peter’s first sermon he quotes Joel’s prophesy in full. In it he predicts the coming of the Holy Spirit without any limitations and “wonders in the heavens above and on the earth below”. Some of these are mentioned and will precede the return of the Lord. The quote ends with the invitation “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (verse 20). Then comes the explanation for his modern audience.
The Lord, the God of Israel, whom St Peter now knows as Lord and Christ ‘this Jesus whom you have crucified’ offers salvation to all who repent and are baptised (verse 38)!
This offer of forgiveness of your sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit is available today.