18I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19All of creation waits with eager longing for God to reveal his children. 20For creation was condemned to lose its purpose, not of its own will, but because God willed it to be so. Yet there was the hope 21that creation itself would one day be set free from its slavery to decay and would share the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22For we know that up to the present time all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth. 23But it is not just creation alone which groans; we who have the Spirit as the first of God's gifts also groan within ourselves, as we wait for God to make us his children and set our whole being free. 24For it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For which of us hopes for something we see? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
In March Stowmarket United Reformed Church celebrated 67 years of its current building, the previous building, then congregational, was hit by 5 German bombs, out of the 6 which were dropped on Stowmarket. Sadly, one person was killed. In some ways it could be said that with the Church being hit it saved the people of Stowmarket from more devastation. The Church still has in its archives the tail fin from one of these bombs.
The Church gets less recognition for this event than does Coventry Cathedral, and as I have read somewhere Stowmarket congregational Church was the only congregational Church to be bombed in England.
With our thoughts of these past events in mind, we can't help but draw similarities to mind (as I write this) to what is happening to Ukraine at this present time. As people and as a Church our thoughts when dealing with others should always be on peace, and with dealing with people that we should always deal with those people with dignity and respect.
We do not know where this conflict will lead to, but we must pray for common sense to prevail, the war to stop, and peace for all across the world.
I leave you all with this prayer:
A prayer for Ukraine
God of all,
with alarm and concern we bring before you
the military intervention in Ukraine.
In a world you made for peace and flourishing,
we lament the use of armed force.
We mourn every casualty of this conflict,
every precious life extinguished by war.
We pray comfort for those who grieve
and those who are fearful.
Hear our longing that leaders and nations
will honour the worth of all people
by having the courage
to resolve conflict through dialogue.
May all our human failings be transformed
by your wonderful grace and goodness.
We ask this in the name of Christ,
the author of peace and sustainer of Creation.
This is a prayer from the Joint Public Issues Team of the United Reformed Church, Methodist Church and Baptist Union.
Rev'd Robert Sheard
United Reformed Church Minister of Stowmarket, Debenham, Stowupland, Mendlesham & Haughley