May 032016
 

We continue our prayer in May for Greece. In recent years Greece has had many economic problems which has led to political problems. The culture that has influenced and still influences all thought is today in turmoil. The Old Testament was translated into the Koine Greek Language in the third century BCE. Known as the Septuagint, parts of it were literally translated from Hebrew, other parts paraphrased and others interpreted. Most references to the Old Testament in the New Testament especially Paul’s letters are from the Septuagint. Greek was the international language of the time; the English of today.

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Prayer for the Greek people in times of turmoil

We remember the 24/7 coverage of the Greek crisis:
The hurried elections, referendum, last-minute deals,
Crowds chorused in protest in public squares,
Tourist resorts emptied, worried,
Queues seeking to withdraw funds,
Banks besieged.

Time passes; other matters arise,
Beneath the surface the anxiety remains.

We pray for the Greek people of today:
For those who face the future with uncertainty:
For those not sure whether they can ever retire;
For those who have no work and no prospect of such.

We pray for those who migrate
In search of hope and for those whom
They leave behind, lines of fracture;

Christ Jesus, draw near to those in need:
Through your Spirit, God of all people,
Create within these people,
A heart of hope and once more be for them,
Your people from of old,
A gift-giving God, their source of joy. (χαρις / χαιρω),
Amen.

Historical Background

Over the last few years Greece has been in the news on a regular basis. For some time we would here of emergency budgets, political stand-offs with the European Union, runs on the banks, protests in the streets and frequent changes of government. The reality of Greek indebtedness to German political and economic clout reminded citizens of the damages they had sustained during the Nazi invasion and occupation 70 years before. Would Greece remain within the European Union or be left to find its own way in the company of the drachma rather than the Euro? How difficult to imagine a collapsed state in the light of its classical legacy and its role of being the origins of democracy.

Now all that seems to be in the background – though Greek debt remains high and its people vulnerable. Now the focus falls, firstly, on the Greek islands. For so long they have been the destination of choice for millions of tourists and those on Aegean Sea cruises. The islands of Cos and Lesbos are among those which lie close to the Turkish mainland. They have become the much sought-after destination for refugees from Syria and further afield seeking to establish a foothold, however tenuous in Europe. To the north of the country lies the second focus – the razor wire of Macedonia which prevents refugees entry into the rest of Europe.

For Christians, of course, Greece is of some importance. The books of the New Testament were originally written in Greek. Several of Paul’s epistles were directed to churches in what we would now regard as Greek cities – Philippi, Corinth and Thessaloniki. Paul’s address to the unknown God took place in the Athenian agora or marketplace.

Our expression of faith owes much to this presently troubled country – so much so that words like church are derived from (κυριακος), kyriarkos, belonging to the Lord) and the Eucharist comes from the Greek to give thanks (εύχαριστεω),( eucharisteo).