Today, I invited my classmates from the Christian Medical College in Vellore, South India who now live and work in almost every nation under the sun for a time of Intercessory Prayers as the situation in India is worsening every minutes with the deaths from COVID 19 is estimated to peak in mid May. Some of them are very senior ranking both in the Government and in Christian Mission Hospitals with responsibilities for thousands of healthcare professionals engaged in fight against COVID 19. Each of them heart reding stories, with some very personal accounts.
One of them, who is a Pastor in Melbourne, Australia opened the prayers. She began with the words from the Lamentations of Prophet Jeremiah. 18 Cry aloud to the Lord! O wall of daughter Zion! Let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite!
19 Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.
We spent over an hour in Intercessory Prayers with tears and sighs. It reminded me of the lost art of Lament in the Christian Tradition. I also felt how desperately Lament is needed in beloved Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney and at St Andrew’s as we journey through some turbulent times.
In 2018 when life was turbulent in the diocese, St Andrew’s lead the way in inviting people to Lament and Reconciliation. We will revisit it now, with the grace of God, as we emerge from the grips of Pandemic yet with the longing to ‘worship God without fear in holiness and righteousness’ and reach out to those who remain in distress.
While thinking about a Liturgy of Lament I received an email from our friend from Canada, Marion Thompson, a copy of the Icon of ‘Synaxis of All Saints who shone forth in Scotland’. The bottom of the Icon has this prayer which will shape our Liturgy of Lament, ‘All Saints of God, Pray to God for us.
On this our 26th wedding anniversary, I called the family scattered around in India to learn of their welfare and the situation in their neighbourhoods. My brother who lives in Bangalore, India said that in the neighbourhood where they used to live, 24 people died yesterday for lack of Oxygen. People with symptoms of COVID need concentrated oxygen for a short period due to compromised lungs. When this is not available at the right time, death is inevitable. Please continue to pray for the people of India as we continue in prayer for the people of our Diocese and St Andrew’s.