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February 16

Lamentations 5, 31 – 39

Something to read

Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us;
look, and see our disgrace!
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our homes to aliens.
We have become orphans, fatherless;
our mothers are like widows.
We must pay for the water we drink;
the wood we get must be bought.
With a yoke on our necks we are hard driven;
we are weary, we are given no rest.
We have made a pact with Egypt and Assyria,
to get enough bread.
Our ancestors sinned; they are no more,
and we bear their iniquities.

Something to think about

The last chapter of Lamentations resembles the Psalms of communal lament, such as Psalms 44 and 80, in which similar corporate language is used to speak to God of the people’s shame and desperate need for deliverance.

In our passage, the writer of Lamentations describes the people of Judah as orphans and widows; figures that throughout scripture stand for those who are the poorest of the poor.

These are those who have been left behind in Judah and have become a dispossessed people forced to work for others to survive. They struggle to eke out an existence and are forced to pay for basics, like water and wood, that before would have been their own.

In Bangladesh, where virtually the entire population is precariously perched just above sea level, predicted rises would leave millions displaced and dispossessed.

There is, quite literally, nowhere for them to go. Already, families have to move every couple of years, as increased melt water from the Himalayan glaciers sweeps their land and fragile livelihoods away.

Without concerted efforts to alleviate these effects, say the experts, we can forget about making poverty history – climate change is set to make it permanent.

Something to do

When you next take a drink today, pause for a moment to remember that there are millions living with the threat of having everything they’ve ever known washed away, and then pray for quick and effective action on climate change.

Something to pray

Compassionate God, make your loving presence felt to refugees, torn from home, family and everything familiar. Warm, especially, the hearts of the young, the old, and the most vulnerable among them.

Help them know that you accompany them as you accompanied Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their exile to Egypt. Lead refugees to a new home and a new hope, as you led the Holy Family to their new home in Nazareth.

Open our hearts to receive them as our sisters and brothers in whose face we see your son, Jesus.  Amen.

Today’s contributor is David Muir, Christian Aid’s Senior Regional Co-ordinator for its South East region


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