The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections from Catherine Wilson
Sunday - 20 March 2022 - The Third Sunday of Lent
Gathering into the presence of God.
The love of Christ joins us together, let us rejoice in Him! (Ubi caritas)
Dear friends in Crail and St Ayle,
There is so much in the world around us that distresses us at the present time, especially the war in Ukraine and the fate of so many people who are fleeing the country, mainly women and children, leaving husbands, fathers and sons behind. However, in the midst of the distress, some comfort is offered by instances of the good and of hope which are still alive in our world: like the release and home-coming of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe; the news that many of the children who were in the bombed theatre in Mariupol are safe because they were sheltering in the basement; and the response of so many ‘ordinary’ people who are willing to open their homes to Ukrainians seeking safety in other countries.
Last Sunday, I found comfort in taking part in a Taizé-style Sunday evening service - a candlelit service of Taizé chants, poetry and readings and, most importantly, time to reflect in peaceful silence. In modern living, we tend to spend our lives either rushing around, our minds pre-occupied with matters of the moment which are transitory, or we are stressing and worrying over problems we cannot change. We live in a noisy world, and the noise distracts us from prayer and reflection.
Throughout his life, Jesus made time for quietness, for space, for prayer in order to seek his Father’s guidance and to reflect on His will. May we find quiet places and times in our daily lives, to seek God’s guidance, to feel his love and to experience His peace.
The Word of God: Psalm 63, a psalm of David, when he was in the Desert of Judah.
1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
The Psalm's title suggests that it may have been written during the time of David's escape from Absalom which must have been terrifying. It would have been easy for David to have focused attention solely on escape, yet his first thought is not his safety, but to worship God.
In the dry heat of the desert, David recalls not water but worship, the steadfast love of God being better than life. David concentrates his attention on the Lord who is the source and focus of his praise, who has been his help, holding him safe under the shadow of His wing. In the midst of danger when it might seem reasonable to devote all his energy to self-preservation, David turns to God. In doing this, David experiences again, as he has in the past, the nurturing, empowering assurance of God’s presence and he responds with overflowing praise.
Our knowledge of God, and our faith and trust in Him probably seems very weak compared to that of David. In our anxieties, difficulties and sorrows we ask for help but not always with the confidence that David had, a confidence which he expresses in wonderful words of praise.
Psalm 63 one of four lectionary readings for the third Sunday in Lent. There are various themes that link them, such as hardship, suffering, and the possibility of judgement. However, midway through Lent – a time in which we try to focus on issues of discipleship, dedication and deepening our relationship with God - they all encourage the reader to recognise that, whatever problems, hardships and dangers we might be suffering in our lives, God is at our side. God accompanies us and journeys with us to a place of deeper, richer and more satisfying life. May we experience David’s trust and respond with overflowing of praise.
A Prayer for Peace in Ukraine
O God, the refuge and strength of all,
You hold the people of Ukraine in the palm of your hand.
The name of each person there, is written on your heart.
In the darkness of invasion and in the mire of political machinations,
spread we pray, the light of hope and of justice and of peace.
Encourage those who are frightened, to find strength in you and in those around them – near and far.
Help the worldwide family of nations to respond in love with outstretched hearts,
Open minds and open them with the wisdom needed to affect a peace that lasts.
And save us we pray, from not caring and trusting enough.
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