In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
I have been like a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all day long.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
do not forsake me when my strength is spent.
For my enemies speak concerning me,
and those who watch for my life consult together.
They say, “Pursue and seize that person
whom God has forsaken,
for there is no one to deliver.”
O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
let those who seek to hurt me
be covered with scorn and disgrace.
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
Psalm 71: 1-14
As I reflected on this passage for the Lenten devotions I became aware that I wouldn’t spend hours reading about the context of the passage nor research what others have thought or said about it. In fact I realised that I wanted to concentrate on the first 4 verses alone.
Having read these verses I couldn’t remove the images from my minds eye that we have all been witness to, and moved by, of refugees clinging to rocks in the stormy seas of the Mediterranean with no physical way of saving themselves. In verse 3 we hear David cry out to God “ … be my rock of refuge”.
The refugees fleeing their homes in Syria are desperate for “… deliverance from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men” (v4). In the desperation of their situation in which they find themselves they are helpless to “.. save themselves” and, like David, have no one else to whom they can cry “… turn your ear to me and save me” (v2)
But how will God save them?
Here I was reminded of the prayer from Teresa of Avila the Spanish Carmelite nun.
Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the world.
Yours are the feet with which Christ is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which Christ is to bless all people now.
So as we travel through Holy Week towards the act of ultimate salvation for humanity, Christ on the cross, let us be the ears turned towards this crisis and hear them, the ‘rock of refuge’ to which they can cling and let us be the way by which they can receive deliverance from evil and wicked men.
Why not research projects working with refugees in your area such as: www.refugee.action.org.uk or www.regionalasylumactivism.org , where you can hear podcasts from recorded interviews on BBC Radio 4 and see if there are ways in which you can become God’s ears, hands, feet and wallet here on earth.
As we travel through Holy Week
help us to remember those refugees
whose journey is so dangerous and difficult.
Fleeing desperately from evil and cruel men
and intolerable situations.
Help each of us to be ‘you’ to them.
Ruth Mills is a URC member in Salford
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