Tragedy over Ukraine skies, in The Gaza, in Jamaica and Christ The Divine Redeemer

I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing – John Newton
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s) – A prayer for the Decade of Evangelism

1. Internationally two events caught my attention this week.
A) Madness over the skies of Ukraine, when according to some reports, Russian separatists, armed with sophisticated weapons by the Putin led Russian Government, shot down a Malaysian Airplane with nearly 300 persons aboard. Other sources have been more cautious, and merely reported what the two sides have said about the incident. What is undisputed is that something evil took place over the skies in Ukraine.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/russia-supplied-missile-that-shot-down-malaysia-airlines-plane-us-official-says-123578/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28357880

B) Tragic loss of human lives in the Gaza as Israelites and Hamas fought pitched battles in that area, resulting in mayhem in that Palestinian territory

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/07/20/333162646/humanitarian-truce-quickly-collapses-in-gaza-fighting-resumes

What struck me was the report that some 70% of the over 400 Palestinians who have been killed by the Israelites so far, are civilians. However in an interview on CNN, the Jewish leader Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that such casualties was the result of Hamas, placing civilians in danger by firing rockets and shooting from behind them. However the scale of the ‘collateral damage’ seem to support the view of some that the response of the Jewish State has been an ‘overkill’. But such is the complex nature of this seemingly never ending war, that truth also has become a casualty.
2. Locally one of the big news in Jamaica is the drought in the eastern and southern part of the island, triggering a recurrent debate about our capacity to store sufficient water for times like these.
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/official-says-jamaicas-drought-intensifying

The other one is a continuation of the story of the tragic loss of lives which featured in the International stories

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Negril-tragedy-_17196319

Negril tragedy – 3 children perish in house fire
Jamaica Observer ‎- 1 day ago
NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Three children died yesterday morning when fire … The Jamaica Observer understands that McKenzie’s mother and …

THE WORD OF GOD

In the midst of all of this tragedy, what word did The Lord send this week.

THE FIRST MESSAGE – SEND TO LEADERS IN MY COUNTRY. FEATURES A WORD ABOUT REPENTANCE, THE WAY BACK TO GOD, AS HARD TIMES, CONSEQUENT ON OUR PRONENESS TO ‘WANDER’ FROM GOD, CAUSE PAIN AND MISERY

Holidaying with two of four grandchildren on the North Coast. Lots of tourists in the hotel. And next door in two cruise ships that we saw docking on successive days.

@lucienforJesus: Carnival cruise ship visiting Ocho Rios Jamaica @souldancing #goodfortourism,#zoomlens, @JNFoundation @jamaica http://t.co/hN7XWDg2wE

Then on the day we are leaving, listening to Barbara Gloudon on http://www.rjrfm94 I was educated about the water situation in Jamaica. The problem is the south coast as the north coast has lots of rainfall and the rivers are flowing. And the studies do not support the building of another dam. Plus we are suffering from the El Niño effect – warming of the ocean off the coast of Ecuador which though decreasing the number of storms, also affects the rainfall.
Came back home and went to bed and was awakened at 4:00 am this morning, to read this Word. An abbreviated form of which follows

THE WORD OF GOD

This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought: “Judah mourns, her cities languish; they wail for the land, and a cry goes up from Jerusalem. The nobles send their servants for water; they go to the cisterns but find no water. They return with their jars unfilled; dismayed and despairing, they cover their heads. The ground is cracked because there is no rain in the land; the farmers are dismayed and cover their heads.

Although our sins testify against us, do something, Lord, for the sake of your name. For we have often rebelled; we have sinned against you. You who are the hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night? Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save? You are among us, Lord, and we bear your name; do not forsake us! This is what the Lord says about this people: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.”

“Speak this word to them: “ ‘Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for the Virgin Daughter, my people, has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow.

Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this. (Jeremiah 14:1-4, 7-10, 17, 22 NIV)

Comment: It’s not about Messi vs. Maradona. As interesting as that debate may . It’s not about ” Who shot the Sheriff (Ellington)” and why, to misquote Bob Marley, as topical as that may be -from The Lord. From me and The Lord – it’a all about a country needing to repent, led by its leaders, and return to the only source of goodness and mercy. To a God who has a proven record in this nation. Rescuing us time and time again from evil. Providing rain and good soil and a beautiful climate. A cherished land in which to live, and grow children. But we have abandoned Him, and the Word from Hosea applies to us. And to all nations who have rebelled against a loving God. So having repented, It’s all about the need to pray for mercy. For rain. For peace in our land. For mercy as people fly over troubled lands, that evil masquerading as nationalism may not cause planes to be shot down, nor for lands to be invaded by armed forces. Whether in the Middle East or elsewhere. Not because we are righteous, but because we serve merciful and compassionate God.

THE WORD OF GOD
Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away. (Hosea 4:1-3 NIV)

THE SECOND MESSAGE – SENT TO MEMBERS OF MY CHURCH BACK HOME IN JAMAICA, AS A CONTINUATION OF SUNDAY CAMERA – THE INTERNATIONAL VERSION THIS TIME – WHEN I TAKE PICTURES AFTER CHURCH AND SEND A SUMMARY OF THE SERMON TO PEOPLE ON LINE. AGAIN THE ISSUE OF REPENTANCE EMERGES.

Went to St. Thomas Episcopal Church in South Miami where my daughter and her family worship.

SERMON

By Rev. Amanda Lippe, from the Gospel reading on the Parable of the Weeds. Her focus was on the disappointments, poverty, trials, injustice and other ‘weeds’ which accompany us in our Christian sojourn in this land. And the grace and wisdom that God gives us to sustain us in the midst of these ‘weeds’ of life. Clearly that’s one lesson we ought to learn. But there is another. The issue of Sin, sown by the evil one, in the midst of the good seed. That which makes us so unworthy, why Christ suffered and died for us, and to whom we pray day and night for mercy. For ourselves and our ‘neighbors’. So in Christ we can thank God ” that there is now no more condemnation, for the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death” ( Romans 8:1-2 NIV). Praise God. And to which a very profound song, sang so beautifully by a lady with a soprano voice, spoke. ( I would love to hear our own Rev. “Grace” Jervis sing this song.

“O Divine Redeemer” Charles Grounod ( 1818-1893)

Michelle Esteves, Soprano

Ah! Turn me not away,
Receive me tho’ unworthy;
Hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from thy throne
Haste Thee, Lord to mine aid,
Thy pity shew in my deep anguish!
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Though righteous thine anger,
O Lord! Shield me in danger, O regard me!
On Thee, Lord, alone will I call.

O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
and remember not, remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!

Night gathers round my soul;
Fearful, I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry! Save me Lord in Thy mercy;
Come and save me O Lord

Save, in the day of retribution,
From Death shield Thou me, O my God!
O Divine Redeemer, have mercy!
Help me, my Saviour!

THE THIRD MESSAGE – COMES FROM A REFLECTION ON PSALM 84:6, AND REFERENCES THE BaCA VALLEY IN THE MIDDLE EAST AT A TIME WHEN THE WORLD’S ATTENTION IS FOCUSED ON THAT AREA ON ACCOUNT OF THE BLOODSHED TAKING PLACE THERE. BUT WHEN I READ THE MEDITATION BY ANNE BRADSTREET, THERE WAS A PERSONAL MESSAGE OF COMFORT FOR ME, AND I DARE SAY FOR ALL OF US WHO HAVE TRAVELLED THE ROAD OF REPENTANCE.

ANN BRADSTREET ( 1612-1672) Americas first woman poet
…. ” I have not studied in this you read to show my skill, but to declare the truth”, wrote Ann to her children, ” not to set forth myself, but the glory of God”.
MAY 13, 1657
Verse : Psalm 84:6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, hey make it a place of springs, the autumn rain cover it with pools.

As spring the winter doth succeed
And leaves the naked tree do dress,
The earth all black is clothed green.
At sunshine each their joy express

My sun’s returned with healing wings,
My soul and body doth rejoice,
My hearts exults and praises sings
To him that heard my wailing voice.

My winter is past, my storms are gone,
And former clouds seem now all fled,
But if they must eclipse again,
I’ll run where I was succored.

I have a shelter from the storm,
A shadow from the fainting heat,
I have access unto the throne,
Who is a God so wondrous great.

O hath thou made my pilgrimage
Thus pleasant, fair, and good,
Blessed me in youth and elder age,
My Baca made a springing flood.

O studious am what shall I do
o show my duty with delight;
All I can give is but thine own
And at the most simple mite.

FINAL COMMENT – Trials and tribulation abound in the world. Some of our own making in how we have treated the our environment with tragic consequences. While in many other instances, as in the Gaza, in Negril in Jamaica, and over the skies in Ukraine, evil rears its ugly head, as it has done throughout history. A story which is the message behind the Parable of the Weeds, as told by Jesus in the Gospel reading for the Anglican Church worldwide today. This then is the ‘big news’, and not only that in Britain women can now consecrated as Bishops in the church – a story which ‘trended on Twitter this week and provoked a lot of discussion.
All other stories in history find their relevance in this remarkable ‘teaching moment’ by Jesus. For if we do not recognize Sin, for what it is, a deadly weed in world created by God and declared ” Very Good”, or continue to be cautious in how we treat with it, then the significance of our Savior’s sacrificial death will continue to be lost on us. With tragic consequences. For unless, Putin, Netanyahu, Barack Obama, David Cameron, and our own Portia Simpson Miller, and the people of the world, in response to the Gospel of Christ and Him Crucified as preached by the Church, peace will continue to be a hope a truth a casualty. Whether in Jamaica, The Middle -East, in Ukraine or in Malaysia.
So the good news is that ” We have a shelter from the storm and a shadow from the fainting heat”, in and through Christ Jesus. But first we must appeal to the Divine Redeemer, and then, only then will we find peace in this world of Sin, as the ‘night gathers round the souls’ of those who died in the Ukraine, in The Gaza Strip this week, and those children who died in that tragic fire in Jamaica.

O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
and remember not, remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!

Night gathers round my soul;
Fearful, I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry! Save me O Lord.

Amen.

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