Daily Devotion for Friday 14th June 2024

Reading Selected verses from Romans 12 

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another…

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;  love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.  Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
 
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
 
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Reflection

I have very limited knowledge of Myanmar.  I guess that is true for many people reading these Devotions. 

In 2020, I had brief email exchanges with the Revd Ram Thanga, then General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM), regarding a proposed Nurse Aid Project.  Before we could release the requested financial support, the military coup took place, and we had no choice but to put the plans on hold.  We hoped and prayed it was a temporary situation.  I don’t think anyone imagined things would be where they are today.

Since then, I have twice been seated beside a PCM representative at Council for World Mission gatherings.  When I asked what we could do to help, he said ‘Nothing. Just pray!’  He spoke of terror.  Uncertainty.  Rage.  All in a voice barely audible, such is the trauma he was experiencing.

In 2023 the Revd Pek Muan Cuang, the new PCM General Secretary, twice visited the UK.  I was part of a URC delegation which met, shared meals, and hosted him at Church House.  Pek laughs easily and has a wonderfully mischievous sense of humour.  Later, he spoke about the realities of life in Myanmar.  Bombings and gunfire.  Mass displacements.  Closed schools.  Cyclone Mocha.  The need for medical provision.  He spoke about the commitment of the PCM to stand in the breach – in so many ways – offering relief, shelter, education, and actively seeking to broker peace.  We wondered how he keeps on smiling amidst such devastation. 

I can’t imagine life in Myanmar – but I am marked by my encounters with these 3 individuals, negotiating a reality faced by millions there.  And I know that these, too, are part of the Body in which we have our being; the Body in which the suffering of one is the suffering of all.  

But now we can help.  The PCM needs our prayers and our action to continue and grow its life-giving ministries, seeking to overcome evil with good.  (How) will we respond?

Prayer

God, in whom all are united,
Sometimes we feel so separate
And separated.
Life ‘over there’
Completely removed from the reality
We know.
And yet, we are one Body,
Called to share each other’s laughter,
And feel each other’s pain.
Remind us
That the stories which no longer make it
Into our newspapers
Are still the lives being lived
By real people –
With names and families,
And hopes and dreams.
Help us to care.
Move us to respond.
Amen

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