Today's Lectionary Text
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
When evildoers assail me
Though an army encamp against me,
One thing I asked of the Lord,
For he will hide me in his shelter
Two Sundays ago, in the sanctuary at church, just to the side of the chancel area, a large flower stand held a 3-foot-tall arrangement of sunflowers. A few unlit tea lights rested in front of the arrangement. A basket full of those candles also occupied the surface. Very nice!
The sunflower is the Kansas state flower, but Kansas day was over a month ago.
Surely, these flowers are not blooming outside right now. So why were they there? Then our pastor announced the reason. The national flower of Ukraine is the sunflower. Thus, we were invited to come forward anytime during the service and light one of the tea lights in a spirit of prayer for the Ukrainian people.
We share this symbol with the people of Ukraine. Since we are linked in this way, we need to be extra vigilant in praying for Ukraine. I was glad to learn of this connection. My sunflower photo on the wall by the back door now becomes a reminder to pray. Whereas previously my sunflower earrings brought to mind just my granddaughter, who gave them to me, now I think of grandchildren and grandmothers in Ukraine as I wear them.
The psalmist identified the Lord with words such as light, salvation, and fortress.
With the Lord we can see more clearly, and we know we are accompanied on our daily journey by a God who loves us. Further, Psalm 27 describes God’s house as beautiful and as a shelter.
These descriptions provide clues about how we might pray for the situation in Ukraine. The shining light of God may be what is needed for a hungry desperate mother to have hope. A sense of God’s presence may renew the courage and ease the fatigue of embattled fighters who are trying to protect feeble parents. An empty doorway might become a little sanctuary for a confused teenager trying to find her family after seeing the rubble where their apartment once stood.
These are just a few of the ways we might pray for those surrounded by the horror of war. God calls us here in Kansas and Nebraska to constantly lift up such prayers. Are we not all God’s children? The men and women, girls and boys of Ukraine are our brothers and sisters. The sunflower has long been special in Ukraine. Especially now it speaks of unity and hope. Remember, we are united with them as children of God.
Hope remains with them and with us as we all lean into God. Throughout the hours of this day pray often. Thank God for sunflowers, for brothers and sisters far away, and for God’s presence with each of us.
Rev. Dianne Tombaugh
Prayer for Reflection
God of all, thank you for brothers and sisters around the world. Help us to see and share your presence with those who cross our paths this day. Amen.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color