For a couple in ministry I feel that Jan and I have an unhealthy interest in murder-mysteries.
For us, it’s “Midsomer Murders”,
which records for us during the afternoon so that we can sit down of an evening and enjoy the programme later.
Needless to say, Midsomer was not high on our list as a place to settle down in retirement. The murder statistics in that part of England
are way too high, and would make downtown Chicago look like Noddyland.
Being on ITV, the programme is interrupted by adverts;
one of the most-frequent of which is “Pure Cremations”, a little ironic, considering all the murders we will have just witnessed in the programme!
“Midsomer Murders”, in a light-hearted and entertaining sort of way,
brings us face-to-face with our mortality.
In a theological and liturgical way,
Ash Wednesday makes us face our mortality.
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
…….and tragically, with relentless shocking news bulletins,
mortality screams at us through the present situation in Ukraine.
How can this change?
Life in our presently-fragile vulnerable world is frightening.
The Cold War has returned.
The world has become once again a frightening place.
We need to do whatever we can to redress the balance.
You and I are not powerless.
We can build up, with the Church across the world,
a bank of prayer, to overcome the darkness with God’s light.
In the face of such evil, is prayer any good? It most certainly is.
In the face of chaos, the calm silence of prayer is overwhelming.
The energy created by your prayer, the focus of your prayer,
pacifies the stupidity of our present times,
and shines as a light penetrating the darkness of Ukraine’s situation.
We are not alone.
A few weeks ago, as the Russian Ukrainian border saw the massing of Russian artillery, the prophecy of Our Lady of Fatima about Russia came to mind.
Part of that prophecy, given to the three ordinary children
at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution.
Our Lady of Fatima said to them:
“Pray for Russia, and there will be peace. If not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions. The good will be martyred….various nations will be annihilated.” God’s concern for Russia, then and now, articulated to us through the Mother of God’s Son.
Ask Our Lady of Fatima to pray with you for this matter dear to her heart.
Flood this dangerous world with the spotlight of her prayers and yours.
Pray constantly; pray with others; St Teresa of Kolkata encouraged the daily recitation of the Universal Prayer for Peace….
Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth; lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust; lead me from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.
Soren Kierkegaard the existentialist philosopher said,
“Prayer does not mean listening to yourself speak;
praying means calming down and being still,
and waiting until you hear God.”
Listen for the still small voice of calm that is God’s.
At this particular and frightening beginning of Lent,
the Jesus who died for us on the Cross
is with us in our weakness and vulnerability.
The cross retraced upon our foreheads tonight,
Is the assurance of the Christ who says
“I am with you always, even to the end of time”.