On Ash Wednesday St Paul’s in Manuka hosted an ecumenical vigil for peace in Ukraine, organised by Bishop Mark and Canon Ben Edwards.
The Ash Wednesday liturgy was adapted to commence with a prayer vigil, climaxing with the Greeting of Peace and Holy Communion.
Representatives of other denominations who attended the service included: Bishop Mark Short, Archbishop Christopher Prowse and Fr Trenton Van Reesch (Catholic Church), Bishop Bartholomew (Greek Orthodox), Fr Walodymyr Kalineck (Ukrainian Catholic Church), Archpriest Alexander Morozow (Russian Orthodox), Marusa Stular (Canberra Baptist), Sue Miller (Pentecostal Church), Ramy Nakhil (Presbyterian Church)
Bishop Mark gave a thoughtful and timely reflection from Genesis 4: 1-2, on dust and how it helps us to remember our common humanity as from it we are all formed in Genesis 2; to remember the tragedy of war as first seen in the story of Cain and Abel; and to remember the hope of redemption we see in Hebrews 12, where we’re told the sprinkled blood of Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Ash Wednesday is ordinarily a very solemn occasion, and this was even more so as a gathering in Vigil for the Ukraine. A most poignant moment was the embrace of the Russian and Ukrainian priests who sat beside one another in the front pew of St Paul’s Church during the service.
A small group of people from the Ukrainian community were present, including some whose families are in Kyiv.
A prayer from Bishop Mark:
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Western Church calendar. It’s a time for reflection, perhaps an opportunity to pause and do some of our own writing in the dust.
And if that dust helps us remember our shared humanity, the awful tragedy of war and our common need for grace and redemption, and if it inspires us to pray fervently, give generously and reach across the barriers and borders that divide us – then it will have served us, and our broken world, well.
May we all remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return.
~ Bishop Mark Short
With thanks to Canon Ben Edwards for providing the photographs and details.