This photo has been sent to me by my friend, Andris, who lives in Latvia.
The photo was taken at Jurmala which is a seaside resort about 16 miles (25 kilometres) from the capital of Latvia, Riga. It has 33km (21 miles) of white-sand beach and a population of almost 50,000
When Latvia was part of the Soviet Union it was a favourite place of Communist Party officials including Presidents Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Krushchev.
The people of Latvia and their Baltic neighbours, Lithuania and Estonia are praying that the current president of Russia doesn’t come calling with his army!
As they are members of NATO there is some defence.
They join with the Nordic States of Finland and Sweden in a watchfulness as things continue to unfold in the Ukraine. They know they are at risk, especially Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as Finland, all of which border Russia. Sweden is also feeling vulnerable.
I write this just after the Russian Terrorist attack in Kremenchuk. Scores of people are dead or injured in what many are now calling a ‘War Crime’. The attack was a show of power to the G7 leaders but what it really showed is the demonic force at work in the hearts of Russia’s leaders.
The photos coming out of Ukraine are horrendous.
Contrast that with this beautifully serene photograph of the Baltic Sea. There is an amazing tranquillity with a pale sun kissing the water in the distance. There is a sense of peace.
The sky is uncluttered and blue and even the clouds seem to be resting gently on the surface of the water.
How different that is to the trauma and turmoil in the vortex of violence near that other sea, the Black Sea.
Yet, there is, too, a little blackness in the clouds, perhaps sending to us a warning. Peace is fragile. Humanity can be threatened and be threatening very quickly. Many of us are fearful of what is happening to our world right now and there is a sense of foreboding and apprehension, not least in the nations close to Russia.
This makes the prayer below all the more poignant and deeply appropriate.
It was written by Jeanne Smith, a Latvian lady in one of the Reformed churches and translated into English.
“Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray for the people of Ukraine,
give them strength and miraculous protection from the horrors of war.
I pray for the people of Russia,
God, to allow them to see the truth and to give them the courage to face the terrible regime.
I pray for the people of Latvia and other countries,
give us open hearts and wisdom on how to help the refugees.
I ask that there be unity and love among people, that evil be destroyed,
and that peace may come, so that more and more people may have the eternal peace
that only You can give.
All this I ask of you in the name of Jesus Christ, and for his merit.