Category Archives: peace

Darkness #Advent

Taken from my 2015 book Voices Through Advent and Christmas, available through Moorleys

Responding to Isaiah 9:2-7 

We stumbled and floundered, we scrabbled and groped our way along.  How could we see, for there was no light?  Not where we were.  Something had happened, something was missing.  Someone had stifled all the light and left us.  Darkness all around.  Real darkness. Total black.

How can I get out of this?  Who will rescue me?  Lead me?  Help me?  Guide me?  Who can bring a light, shine it on my path, that I may see?  I can’t get myself out of here.  Where would I start?

Someone, please, come and save me.

11222011

 Lord,
you know the depth of the darkness,
the place of despair,
where there is no hope and no way out.

Reach into my darkness I pray.

Bring your light,
that I may be able to see a way out,
your way,
guiding me,
onwards,
with you.

Forgive me Lord,
the times that I have made the world a dark place.
When I have snuffed out light,
taken hope,
dimmed the light of your presence;
when I have abused life
and goodness
and justice;
when I have turned my back on you
and on others;
when I have failed to see,
because I wasn’t looking;
when I have ignored your call;
when I have behaved
as if I am the only thing that matters.

 Forgive me Lord,
and bring light,
hope and peace,
to me
and to your world.

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He’s Not Here Anymore

 

Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church (Columbus, Ohio) - stained glass, The Empty Tomb
By Nheyob (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12

I had to go
to the place they’d laid him.
I had to go
and continue the task,
to honour
in death
the one we loved so much.

I came,
dragging my cares,
my fears,
my worries.
Wondering,
questioning;
as much about practicalities
as huge theological questions.

The kind of things you worry about,
to stop you worrying about the really huge questions.

But when we got there
our confusion turned to panic.
Someone had moved the stone,
that huge rock
rolled right away.

How could anyone have budged that?

It was the final stopper
on all Jesus had been,
the seal on all he had promised.

The end had come.
We had to face it.
And yet
it had gone.

Moved.

No longer a barrier.

Left behind was
the message,
he’s not here.

It isn’t over,
this isn’t the end.
God has had the final word.
Jesus is alive.

What next?
Who knows,
but Jesus remains with us
God in him.

God taking us
on this journey
on
into life,
hope,
power.

Into life where there was death,
hope where there was despair,
freedom where there things were held down,
power where there was powerlessness.

He isn’t here anymore,
he has risen.

When seemed as if it was all over,
that this was it,
done,
finished with,
dreams shattered,
hopes dashed,
it was only the beginning.

Thank you Lord
that you have other ideas,
a new hope,
a bright future,
new life
in you.

Taken from my book Voices Through Holy Week and Easter, available from Moorleys

Sorrow #Advent

Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky 01

It can seem at times so hard to find any hope in the world, any glimmer of a different future, perhaps especially today, of a time when war and troubles are over, when sorrow has ended.

One thing the Old Testament show us is that Twas Ever Thus.  Humanity has always done a good job of causing trouble for one another – mistreating, making enemies, creating disaster – generally trying to prove who is bigger, stronger and making the life of the weak and vulnerable even more precarious.

Into this God spoke.  Into this God continues to speak.  The Advent message of hope is as needed today as it was when the prophets first spoke it.  God promises that this will end.

Why hasn’t he yet?  Perhaps we haven’t given him chance, allowed him to.  God is trying to stop wars and we keep starting them.  We are still intent on proving who is better, more right – and we fail to live with one another, with tensions and different opinions.  We struggle to do it over even small things, so no wonder we can’t do it over international conflict.  And when weapons get involved, there will only be one end – more hurt, more destruction, more suffering for those who didn’t start anything.

Yet still God continues to stand with us, weep with and for us, and promise an end – just as soon as we let him.  Sorrow will end.  We will be safely home.

God will lead us home and we will be safely blessed – that is our Advent hope.

What am I doing to work with him?

O Lord,
I know you weep over humanity,
you are distraught
at the things we do to one another.

You promise to bring us home
to a place of safety
and joy,
but we carry on the fighting,
discrimination,
injustice
and wonder why you aren’t doing something.

Forgive me Lord
for the part I play
in keeping anger and oppression going.

Today
and tomorrow
may I work with you
to bring an end
that we may be able
to come home to you.

The theme of the first week in Advent is The Day of the Lord.  We look forward to the coming of that day.

Zephaniah 3:14-20

(CEV)

A Song of Celebration

14 Everyone in Jerusalem and Judah,
celebrate and shout
    with all your heart!
15 Zion, your punishment is over.
The Lord has forced your enemies
    to turn and retreat.
Your Lord is King of Israel
    and stands at your side;
you don’t have to worry
    about any more troubles.

16 Jerusalem, the time is coming,
    when it will be said to you:
“Don’t be discouraged
    or grow weak from fear!
17 The Lord your God
wins victory after victory
    and is always with you.
He celebrates and sings
    because of you,
and he will refresh your life
    with his love.”

The Lord’s Promise to His People

18 The Lord has promised:
Your sorrow has ended,
    and you can celebrate.
19 I will punish those
    who mistreat you.
I will bring together the lame
    and the outcasts,
then they will be praised,
instead of despised,
    in every country on earth.
20 I will lead you home,
    and with your own eyes
you will see me bless you
    with all you once owned.
Then you will be famous
    everywhere on this earth.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

O Lord the Clouds are Gathering