I’m writing this as a postscript to my email last week advertising Ash Wednesday – this week, 7pm at St. Mary’s Karori. I hope you’ll take advantage of marking the beginning of your lenten fast/ discipline with others in in this way.
This email is on a related matter…
It is incredibly sad to see the BBC has confirmed the beheading of 21 Copt (Egyptian Christian) migrant workers in Libya – killed for no other reason than bearing the name of Christ. The BBC post (click the link below) makes sober reading.
Last year, as a lenten discipline, I called on all parishioners to commit – in addition to any other commitments they made have made – to pray for the persecuted church worldwide. With Ash Wednesday approaching this week, I want to renew that call.
The sayings of Jesus, calling us (and by “us” here, I mean you and I as we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in our common baptism into Christ), to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, are truly radical. It is to such discipleship we are called.
What can we pray about?
Firstly we must pray for those who are the enemies of Christ. We pray that they should see Jesus and hear his call to follow him.
Secondly, we need to pray for the comfort and strengthening of the families of those so brutally killed for their faith – not just the families of these 21, but across the region and even further into West Africa and the Asian sub-continent. Remember the 200 girls and the many many more who have suffered at the hands of Bokoharam?
Thirdly, we can pray for a measured response from all involved – especially in this instance the Egyptian government who are under pressure to “do something”. Anger and revenge will not advance the transforming power of the Gospel in a world that desperately needs it.
Lastly, we should pray as Jesus taught us, ‘Father… bring us not into times of trial, but deliver us from evil’. Our relative safety is an opportunity to seek God on behalf of others. Let’s use it.