Entry into Jerusalem
Lorenzetti, Pietro, active 1320-1348
Church of San Francesco, lower basilica
Weekly Lenten Prayer Series
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. (Philippians 3:17-4:1)
God Heaven and Earth,
Governmental leaders of various nations, and citizens and residents across the globe, have turned their attention to Ukraine as this country’s invasion led by an adversarial ruler has reached its 2nd week of combat. The word genocide comes to mind, as citizens, including children have been killed while fleeing or defending themselves. Our hearts are aggrieved, and we confess that we feel powerless, even as residents of one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Our citizenship, O God, is in indeed in heaven, as the writer of the Epistle to the Philippians exclaims, yet you have also given us a home on earth upon which we want to feel safe. Troops sent in as chattel also lay dead; those defending their homes and those who have invaded are like pawns on a high stakes chess board. May nefarious invaders’ motives be thwarted by the stalwart efforts of those defending their lives; may we accompany those being displaced spiritually and materially.
In another part of the world, an ethnically diverse nation called Myanmar has also been under siege for over a year. We have cried out on their behalf during these 13 + months: weeping with them as their homes and lives have been ravaged. The word genocide again comes to mind. Our hearts are aggrieved, and again we confess that we feel powerless, even as residents of one of the most powerful countries on earth.
May we not be found guilty of doing nothing, or not enough, to lighten the burdens of those who are suffering.
May the people of Ukraine and Myanmar, as well as other troubled places, stand firm. We confess we do not know all the complexities of these conflicts or even how to stop our outrage long enough to engage in the holy power of prayer for and with them. We want our public prayers to be resolute. May the vain efforts of individuals seeking personal glory be put to shame; may the god of their bellies with its ravenous hunger be utterly destroyed.
We pray in the name of Jesus, who came to establish a new heaven and a new earth, Amen.
Rev. Dr Cheryl F. Dudley
Regional Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York