Bishop Auckland Methodist Church

Lenten Letter from our District Chair

Dear friends,

The picture at the head of this letter is entitled Wounded Angel painted by the Finnish painter Hugo Simberg in 1903. I came across it the other day when reading a prayer written by Eduard Khegay, the Methodist Bishop for Eurasia, an area which covers both Ukraine and Russia. His prayer is included below and I encourage you to use it as your own as I also encourage you to reflect on the painting in the light of current events. Khegay’s prayer imagines the impact of the war in Ukraine on different people and Christ alongside them weeping. The prayer acts as testimony not only to the tragic situation in Ukraine but also to many other areas of conflict and occupation throughout the world. In that respect I encourage you to pray for our colleague, John Howard, who is currently in Hebron acting as a Human Rights Observer.

Like most of you, I’m sure, I began Lent with a heavy heart. It is never a season which we can dress up with cosy piety or easy platitudes but that seems even less possible this year. Nevertheless, as we journey through Lent towards the events of Holy Week and Easter, I am reminded that Jesus himself lived in a context of occupation and within a few decades of the crucifixion, Jerusalem itself would experience war, destruction and turmoil. The reality of the world’s experience today is echoed in the pages of the gospel story. But this is not an easy context in which to preach or to know what to say. Whilst we pray for peace, stand alongside others in solidarity, give as generously as we are able and look for signs of hope, we are also called to weep as Christ weeps.

Yours in Christ,

Richard Andrew

District Chair

A prayer by Eduard Khegay

Imagine an infant born in the Kiev subway and his exhausted mother seeking shelter from grenades.
Christ weeps next to them.

Imagine a lonely grandmother and her grandson in Luhansk who can’t sleep because of explosions and sirens.
Christ weeps at their side.

Imagine a Russian and a Ukrainian soldier looking at each other through the sight of a machine gun.
Christ weeps at their side.

Imagine the drivers queuing up at the Ukrainian-Polish border for three nights.
Christ weeps next to them.

Imagine that friends on Facebook are willing to “denazify” each other with their comments.
Christ weeps at their side.

Imagine the explosions near your house and the wounded in the east and west, in the south and north of Ukraine.
Christ weeps at their side.

Imagine hundreds of thousands of refugees from Ukraine in Europe and Russia.
Christ weeps at their side.

Imagine the coffins with 18-year-old boys who have just started life and their grieving mothers.
Christ weeps at their side.

Imagine if you were hugging all these people.
Christ embraces them with You…

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