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Ukraine, War and the Cross

April 2022 Ovingdean News

In the forefront of all our minds this Lent is the war in Ukraine with millions of refugees, thousands of lives destroyed, and many many living in fear. The situation is heartbreaking and Pope Francis reflects that ‘Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. It is not merely a military operation, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery….war is madness’.

Lent carves out space for us to think and pray in communion with all who suffer and at the start of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, we held a well attended prayer vigil on the village green. At the vigil we shared our lamentation in thoughts and prayers and joined our voices with others around the world in calling for peace and justice. Prayer is certainly one of the most important things we can do at this time and I would like to share with you a prayer for Ukraine from the Archbishops’ of Canterbury and York:

God of peace and Justice,

We pray for the people of Ukraine today.

We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons.

We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow,

that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them.

We pray for those with power over war or peace,

for wisdom, discernment and compassion, to guide their decisions.

Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear,

that you would hold and protect them.

We pray, in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen

Jesus did so much for us on the cross at Easter and Holy Scripture describes how Jesus gave himself to take away our sins, to overcome death and evil and to bring us back to God. The message of Jesus from the cross is both clear and challenging to the core - that just as God forgives us, we are to forgive others, including our enemies. We are summoned by Jesus to pray for our enemies' transformation, and to respond to ill treatments with a love that is not only Godly but also from God.

That's not to say however that Jesus thinks we should be passive in the face of violence and aggression. Jesus’ teaching and example rather are about actively resisting evil without using the tools of evil. The cross is not an act of passivity in the face of evil but an act of radical subversion, dispelling cruelty and oppression through the action of liberty, sacrifice and love. I highly recommend Walter Wink’s Book: ‘The Powers that Be’ if you would like to reflect further on this. As part of our active opposition to what is happening I ask you to give as generously as you can to the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) campaign:

Holy Week this year, starting on Sunday the 9th of April with Palm Sunday, includes Stations of the Cross, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Finally, on 17th of April, it is Easter Sunday and we will gather to celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection and triumph over death and evil. Everyone is welcome and we would love to see you.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Fr Richard

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