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A Lenten Reflection 

We are already one week into the season of Lent when the church marks the 40 days (plus Sundays) ahead of Easter. For many of us, the past few weeks have been extremely busy but also heartbreakingly long. We have witnessed horrifying images and heart terrible accounts of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. For many, this looming threat of global conflict will have only compounded the challenges, fears and anxieties that the events of the past two years have already placed on our hearts.

In times of national and international distress, it is easy to lose hope, to feel that the tears we shed, or the prayers we offer have no impact and are pointless in the face of the powers and principalities of the world who pay no heed to the sacredness of human life – but both the Jewish and Christian faiths have long-established traditions for exactly a time like this, the tradition of Lament.

To lament is to offer our honest, uncensored distress, our pains and our heartaches to God. It is to take our deepest concerns and grief to God, knowing that God will never reject us for our prayers: no prayer is too honest, no prayer is out of place, no prayer is unwelcome in God’s sight. Laments are acts of praise, and appeal to God based on the confidence we have in God’s character; laments are acts of praise, an appeal to God based on the confidence we have in God’s character; laments are a proof that we trust enough in God to bear the depths of our souls to Him and that we expect to grow closer to God, who in Jesus, knows intimately the depths of human suffering and despair which he experienced on the Cross; laments are also a participation in the suffering of others, a way that we can have solidarity with our neighbours whom God has called us to love; finally laments are ultimately prayers and prayers are not passive. They call for God’s response and invite us to be agents of God’s Kingdom in these situations.

During this season of Lent, a season traditionally full of self-reflection, confession, almsgiving and prayer, I encourage you to be free in your laments before God. Laments for Ukraine. Laments for a world ravaged by pandemic, disaster, and conflict, laments for your own pain and suffering, laments for the church, and laments for those you love. Nothing is beyond the scope of God’s care and concern. If you need resources or support in this season, please do not hesitate to call me or one of the Elders so that we can share in it with you.

It is important, however, to note that lament is not our final prayer. It is a prayer for the meantime. Most of the Psalms of lament and even the book of Lamentations end with a promise of future praise, a promise to return thanksgiving to God for his deliverance. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have confidence to know that sorrow is not the end, life has and will claim the ultimate victory over death. One day, every tear will be wiped away; one day death will be swallowed up in victory; one day there will be no bloodshed, no pain, no suffering and we will sing our Alleluias eternally in God’s presence. But for now, we lift our lament to God as we wait with hope, praying Come, Lord Jesus.

Many of you have also been asking “what else can be done”.

The PCC joins in prayer for the people in Ukraine as they face war, danger and uncertainty. We are in touch with our partners in Ukraine and will provide updates as they are available. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank and ACT Alliance (Acting Churches Together) are receiving donations through Presbyterian World Service & Development to respond to the escalating situation in Ukraine.

The invasion of Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis. This devastating conflict has already displaced millions of people. The most urgent needs are for food, water, and shelter. To help respond quickly to the escalating situation, PWS&D is receiving donations for Ukraine. As a member of ACT Alliance and Canadian Foodgrains Bank, we are well-placed to provide urgently needed food and non-food support.

ACT Alliance members have already begun setting up refugee support points (one through Hungarian Interchurch Aid on the Ukrainian Border) and sending relief supplies to Ukraine (the first shipment of 28 tons was sent on February 26th). Canadian Foodgrains Bank members are also planning a response with urgently needed food assistance.

If you wish to support these efforts, donations may be made online or by cheque.

https://presbyterian.ca/donate/donate-to-ukraine-crisis-appeal/

If you wish to donate by cheque, please make the cheque out to the Presbyterian Church in Canada with PWS&D Ukraine Crisis Appeal in the memo line. These may be mailed directly to 50 Wynford Drive, Toronto ON, M3C 1J7. Please do not make the cheques out to Melville as it will slow down the process of getting the funds where they are needed most.

If you would like to read more about the work of the ACT Alliance, please visit

actalliance.org/news

Information about the ongoing work of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is available at the link below

Ukraine is in crisis

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Bethany McCaffrey

 

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