Tuesday, March 1, 2022

A cold war kid, ashes, and our response

I grew up a cold war kid. The “What will happen?” icy tension the Cuban Missile Crisis brought to our home is still unforgettable. The threat of war hung heavy over us for days.

But in Ukraine, war is no longer a threat, but reality.

We have all read the stories rising out of  brave souls intent on holding on to their freedom—pastors and church workers who refused to leave and have turned their churches into sanctuaries for refuge and hospitals for hurting—the video Priscilla Shirer posted of people praying and singing in the subway as the battle raged above them—grandmothers armed and in street clothes ready to fight for what is precious. They follow the lead of a president who when offered a way out said, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

It is humbling. It is inspiring. And it should move us to fall on our knees in prayer for these people.

Tomorrow, on the first day of Lent, we will have an Ash Wednesday service at our church. We are not normally a liturgical church, but on several days a year, we turn to words spoken through the ages and articulated in churches around the world. On Ash Wednesday, it is about repentance, and the need we all have to renew our faith.

After scripture readings and singing verses from that old hymn, “Have Thine Own Way,” we will gather at the altar as Jerry, the pastor, calls us to “repent and believe the gospel,” and he may remind us that we are dust and that to dust we will return. Then he will take the ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday palms and make the sign of a cross on our forehead which symbolizes repentance.

This service always strikes a deep chord within me. But this year I am especially thinking of and sorry for the times I have taken God’s gracious gifts for granted and how sisters and brothers in the faith at this very moment are contending for the gospel in ways that put their lives at risk. When I look back through the years to those dark days in my childhood, I am grateful this country suffered no attack during that time and realize that as a child, I, and many of you, could have experienced what the children of Ukraine are going through at this time.

The final blessing on Ash Wednesday moves me to tears, “Go forth into the world in the strength of God’s mercy to live and to serve in newness of life. May Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven, bless and keep you. May the Lamb of God who laid down his life for all, graciously smile upon you. May the Lord God order all your days and deeds in peace.”

I am praying for these ones on the other side of the planet that God would order their days and deeds in peace, that their sacrifices would not be in vain, that with God as the one who strengthens them, they would indeed rise to live and serve.

And as we bear those ashes on our foreheads, may the Lamb of God who died for us guide us to acts of love and compassion to help them in their plight. 

Praying for Ukraine.

“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love . . . “(Joel 2:13).

Samaritan's Purse-Crisis in Ukraine Response HERE (Unsponsored link).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022


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