Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent as we make our journey towards Easter, the Cross, and the Empty Tomb. Historically, the church has used this season as a time of prayer and fasting, based on Jesus' 40 days in the Wilderness. Lent has often been associated with themes of repentence, reflection, mourning and self-denial, but also the renewing of faith, hope, love and anticipation as we head towards the good news of Easter.
Such themes always have value and significance, but this year, Lent seems all the more poingant in the face of the unfolding events in Ukraine. Most of us hear and read the news updates, but for many, we also know people who live in Ukraine - friends, colleagues, contacts. All of this brings the reality of war much closer to home - we sense the sorrow and mourning more sharply, yet we long to hold on to hope and the anticipation of God's intervention and redemption.
So, during Lent we are asking you to join with the Church around the world as we pray specifically for Ukraine, but also for peace and justice in places where conflict, war, and the theat of war are part of every day life, even though they do not reach our screens.
The invitation begins tomorrow on ASH Wednesday as the major global denominations of the Christian Church unite to call the People of God around the world to a day of Prayer and Fasting for the situation in Ukraine. We want to encourage everyone at Trinity to join in this global call, as we cry out to God together. Some may be able to fast for the day, others may fast a meal, or a particular practice, but whatever you do, we invite you to spend increased time in prayer tomorrow as the Church around the world prays. What a statement of unity in the face of conflict.
Then throughout Lent, we want to continue this focus for intercession and prayer. We want to pray for Justice and Peace in all the nations, while still praying for Ukraine. Over the next 6 weeks, we will share information and prayer requests from around the world where conflict exists, and invite you to pray. We will intersperse this with encoruagements and prayers to consider our own lives and the places of conflct within us or around us.
Some people may also like to follow a specific Lent Devotional over the next 6 weeks and so here are a few suggestions for you. Just click on the links below, sign up and receive their daily devotionals. The first (LiCC) has a specific focus on how faith intersects and integrates with everyday life, and the second (Tearfund) will follow through some weekly reflections on the Seven Words of Jesus from the Cross. Click on the following for more info and register...
London Institute of Contemporary Christianity: A Simple Rule: Lent Prayer Journey | LICC
Tearfund: Get your free Lent Devotional - Tearfund
If you'd like to use a devotional App on your phone, then let me suggest Lectio 365 from "24/7 Prayer". You can find more info about them here Home - 24-7 Prayer International but also more about the App by clicking on the following link...
24/7 Prayer: Lectio 365 - 24-7 Prayer International
And of course to download the App, simply search for Lectio 365 in the App store on your phone and download!
Finally, I have attached a prayer for Ukraine from Archbishop Justin Welby. Perhaps you could use this as starting point for your own prayers for Ukraine today, tomorrow and into this season of Lent.
"Lord God, Let Your Kingdom Come, and Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus Name. Amen."
Grace and Peace