Rev. Dr Anne Burghardt, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, offered a reflection. “For Western Christianity, today is the first day of Lent,” said Burghardt. “We enter into this Lent with many conflicts going on around the world, from Tigray to Ukraine; with politicians who are also working on the change of attitude and change of mind by not putting Christ, but fear, narrow-mindedness and exclusion at the center.”
Today, we pray for peace, noted Burghardt. “The fact that there seems to be lack of it in today’s world, should make us ever more eager to strive for it, both in our prayers and in our deeds,” she said. “Professional peace builders often struggle with the feeling that things are not moving on as fast as they wish, or even worse: their efforts don’t seem to lead anywhere.”
We need to be sustained by hope, added Burghardt. “History knows multiple examples of how peace has been restored between former enemies, how they have beaten their swords into plowshares,” she said.
Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life, observed that Ash Wednesday is a most meaningful time to pray for peace as we remember the many places of conflict in today’s world. “It was deeply moving to hear prayers being said in the language of the region being prayed for,” he said. “This was a tangible demonstration of our Christian ecumenical solidarity.”
Eva Abel, from the Republic of Kenya (Anglican Church of Kenya), a student at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey joined in the prayer. She reflected: “Ash Wednesday always reminds me of my last day in life, because it’s during Ash Wednesday and the day that you die that you get the sign of the cross.”