Week Beginning 27/2/22

When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs

Mark 13.7–8

We live in uncertain times.

The events in and around Ukraine have brought war closer to home than any time in most of our lifetimes. Yet, as many in Ukraine have reminded us, Ukraine and Russia have been at war for eight years, ever since the annexation of Crimea and the declarations of independence in Donetsk and Luhansk. In my lifetime, there have been many other places in the world that have experienced wars and civil strife, but they have always seemed more distant and less threatening. There is something about the attack by a major power on a European nation that is very reminiscent of the wars that have caused so much death and destruction throughout the history of Europe.

It is so much easier to destroy things than to build things up. The recent history of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that it is easy for a powerful nation to defeat an army or overthrow a government. Building a real peace is much harder. Making a land into a home where all its people may live in safety and happiness takes a lot of work. Reconciling old enemies and helping them work for the common good is a major challenge. Jesus knew this when he warned his disciples that there would be wars and natural disasters. He encouraged the disciples not to panic, but to keep firm in their faith in him.

It is that faith that leads us to pray. Even when there is nothing practical that we can do, even when we don’t know what to pray for, we pray. As St Paul reminded the Christians in Rome, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8.26) I have included with this email a letter from the archbishops and a covering letter from Bishop Viv. There are some suggestions of when and where to pray, but in the words of Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, however and whenever you pray, pray that the world may choose peace.

This Sunday, we have our usual fourth Sunday services. At Café Church at All Saints, we will be looking forward to Lent by thinking about forgiveness. We will be repeating this at St Mary’s at Open Church the following Sunday. In addition, this Sunday, we have Holy Communion at 8am at All Saints and 10am at St Mary’s.

8.00 amAll SaintsHoly Communion
10.00 amSt Mary’sHoly Communion
10.30 amAll SaintsCafé Church

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. As such, there is no Thursday Holy Communion at St Mary’s. Instead, there will be a service of Holy Communion for Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes on Wednesday 2nd March at 10am. If anyone cannot make the morning service, St Ambrose are holding a service of Holy Communion with the imposition of ashes at 7.30 pm. Along with the World Day of Prayer service at Argyle Morley URC Church, this gives us a rich selection of opportunities for worship this week:

Wednesday9.00 amAll SaintsCeltic Morning Prayer
Wednesday10.00 amSt Mary’sHoly Communion
Wednesday7.30 pmSt AmbroseHoly Communion
Friday2.00 pmArgyle Morley URCWorld Day of Prayer
Sunday10.00 amSt Mary’sOpen Church
Sunday10.30 amAll SaintsHoly Communion
Sunday6.30 pmSt Mary’sEvensong

In all our worship and all our prayers, let us pray for true peace, between nations, communities, and individuals:

Almighty God,
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

May God bless us all

Mark Simms
Licensed Lay Minister
Benefice of All Saints and St Mary, Fishponds