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February 6

Lamentations 1, 8 – 11

Something to read

Jerusalem sinned grievously,
so she has become a mockery;
all who honoured her despise her,
for they have seen her nakedness;
she herself groans,
and turns her face away.

Her uncleanness was in her skirts;
she took no thought of her future;
her downfall was appalling,
with none to comfort her.
‘O Lord, look at my affliction,
for the enemy has triumphed!’

Enemies have stretched out their hands
over all her precious things;
she has even seen the nations
invade her sanctuary,
those whom you forbade
to enter your congregation.

All her people groan
as they search for bread;
they trade their treasures for food
to revive their strength.
Look, O Lord, and see
how worthless I have become.

Something to think about

Personification is a figure of speech, a metaphor in which human characteristics, feelings or actions are attributed to things or abstract ideas.

We are, for example, familiar with Father Time, Mother Earth, and with the custom of giving hurricanes female names. The poems in Lamentations chapters 1,3 and 4 use a variety of female images to depict Judah and Jerusalem.

These images weave in and out of one another, sometimes confusingly so it is not clear if several women appear in the poems. But the female representations of Judah and Jerusalem merge into one figure, 'daughter Zion', who personifies Jerusalem.

Zion is the mountain in the centre of the city upon which the Temple was built. Zion was the place where God chose to dwell.  Daughter Zion is both spoken about by a narrator and speaks herself.

Daughter Zion is God's beloved daughter, and a passionate spokeswoman for the people's anguish. At the beginning of the chapter, Jerusalem is compared to a widow, a term used in the ancient world specifically to one whose husband's death deprives her of economic subsistence, completely exposed to the risk of destitution, disease and death.

Today there are 2 million widows in Afghanistan; Kabul is known as 'the widows' capital of the world.' They experience that same exposure, and like daughter Zion, they are also exposed to abuse and indencency.

Christian Aid works with partners in different parts of Afghanistan providing training, equipment, tools and seeds to help women to grow food for their children and provide them with safe and dignified means of employment and income.

Something to do

Who are the groups in your community for whom life may be particularly difficult or uncomfortable; perhaps homeless people or families of prisoners or carers? Can you take a step towards them; for example by writing to your MP on their behalf or by befriending someone who is isolated?

Something to pray

Let us pray for those whose lives are wilderness
Those who are hungry and thirsty
Those who are all alone

Let us pray for those whose own will not receive them
Those who are not listened to
Those who live under constant threat

May we stand firm in the gospel of peace and justice
and follow faithfully in Christ's way of compassion and solidarity
with those who are poor and excluded,
wherever it may lead us.

Amen

Today’s contributor is Kathy Galloway, Christian Aid’s Head of Team in Scotland, a practical theologian, activist and writer, and member, and former leader, of the Iona Community

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