The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Peter Neilson 

Sunday - 13 March 2022 - The Second Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends in Crail and St Ayle,

Last Sunday, we were all reeling from the pace of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and all wondering how to pray.  In those times, like many of you, I turn to the Psalms.  I began worship with a litany based on the words of Psalm 91, a wonderful Psalm of protection.  I have printed it here for you to share in your own time, and to use as you find helpful.

 

I know that we will pray for the whole situation. Among the many prayers of compassion, please join me in praying for God to melt the heart of Vladimir Putin. The Bible and history recount many accounts of people being transformed by the amazing grace of God. We pray in faith and hope.

 

Grace and peace to you all.

Peter.

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A Litany of Defiant Faith in the Face of the Ukrainian Invasion Based on Psalm 91, a psalm of protection.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

My God, in whom I trust.” (Ps 91:2)

 

Refuge for the refugees

               In God I trust.

Fortress for the besieged

               In God I trust.

Shelter for the vulnerable

               In God I trust.

Protector of the fearful

               In God I trust.

Encircler in the battle

               In God I trust.

Commander of the angel hosts

               In God I trust.

Supporter of the stumbling

               In God I trust.

Trampler of the Serpent

               In God I trust.

Silencer of the lion’s roar

               In God I trust.

Rescuer of all who call.

               In God I trust.

 

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

My God, in whom I trust.” (Ps 91:2)

 

The Psalm for Today: Psalm 27:1-8

The Lord is my light and my salvation –
   whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life –
   of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked advance against me
   to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
   who will stumble and fall.


3 Though an army besiege me,
   my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
   even then I will be confident.

 

4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
   this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
   all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord

    and to seek him in his temple.
 

5 For in the day of trouble
   he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
   and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
   above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
   I will sing and make music to the Lord.

 

7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
   be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’
   Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Reflection: Fear and Faith

Fear and faith, despair and hope, rage and determination all wrestle with each other as we watch the totally unnecessary catastrophe of war unfolding in Ukraine.  We feel the fear and are dragged down by the desperate sight of women and children trapped in cellars or trudging towards a friendly border.  Prayers of desperation jab at our hearts as we wonder where God is in all this mess.  We throw out our prayers of compassion to the God we see in Jesus.  We cry out for a halt to the atrocities and hope we are not shouting to the wind.

 

Once again the Psalms come to our rescue.  David is a man who has known war and hostility, fear and despair, but seems to be able to hold the line with words of defiant confidence: The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?  He even goes on to say: Though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

 

Then come these words that capture our attention like a laser beam focusing on God: One thing have I asked of the Lord, and this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple.

 

For years I have used these words as a starting point for prayer, focusing my heart and mind on God.  Only today did I realise that they are set among all this talk of fear and trouble, enemies and war.

 

Amidst the confusion around us and within us, one thing have I asked of the Lord…. for myself and for the displaced people of Ukraine.

Prayer

Lord, have mercy, and change the heart of the man at the heart of this tragedy.  AMEN