As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Saturday 9th May 2020
‘Love and sacrifice – being a peacemaker’
Yesterday was the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. What should have been a national celebration right across the UK was downgraded due to the Coronavirus. Instead of street parties and other such events, instead we had to make do with TV and internet. Perhaps the best ‘local’ event was down in Collieston where VE day was marked by a group of local pipers who stood at the end of the pier. I would have loved to have been present, hearing the sound resonated around the village. (There is an echo from Collieston Beach that rebounds off the hillside and houses. It was discovered whilst shouting at the dogs last summer to stay away from a family having a peaceful picnic!)
One memory I have concerns a visit to a Care Home in Balmedie. I was chatting to one lady who told me about her husband’s experiences. He was serving with the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders in the ill-fated battle for Singapore which saw the surrender of 130,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers. On the 15th February 1942 he taken into captivity and until of the war suffered at the hands of the Japanese. However, the lady concerned had no knowledge if her husband was dead or alive. It was only after the war had ended and the surviving members of the Gordon Highlanders returned home that she found out. On the day they arrived in Aberdeen by train she was stood on the platform waiting, watching and wondering. As the troops poured out of the train and fell into the arms of their families and sweethearts, she saw at the far end of the platform the familiar face of her husband. What a story!
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Zechariah 8: 3-8
Jerusalem, Holy City of the Future
3 “Thus says the LORD:
‘I will return to Zion,
And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,
The Mountain of the LORD of hosts,
The Holy Mountain.’
4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Old men and old women shall again sit
In the streets of Jerusalem,
Each one with his staff in his hand
Because of [d]great age.
5 The streets of the city
Shall be full of boys and girls
Playing in its streets.’
6 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘If it is [e]marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days,
Will it also be marvellous in My eyes?’
Says the LORD of hosts.
7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the [f]east
And from the land of the [g]west;
8 I will bring them back,
And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
They shall be My people
And I will be their God,
In truth and righteousness.’
One of the biggest challenges for us ‘revs’ is getting the right balance at occasions such as VE Day and Remembrance Sunday. Should they be a time of sombre reflection, recalling all the terrible things that happened? Compared to what happened in some places the North East got off lightly. Or should these occasions be a celebration of victory? Should we rejoice that against all the odds we overcame. Our enemies – those who instigated violence and warfare – we overcome and evil was defeated. Personally I always strive to get a respectful balance between the two.
Our two Bible readings invite us to reflect on the present and strive for the future. Our call as peacemakers is one of the defining challenges of the Christian Faith. Some choose to interpret the passage as a call to resist violence in all its forms. Others, like myself, recognise the call to resist violence, but recognise that warfare is a very occasionally required for overcoming evil. The second passage invites us to work for the future, where God’s reign of love is supreme. Writing in 587/6 BC, after the fall of Jerusalem, Zechariah’s vision is a promise of better days. The homely image of old people sitting in the street with young children playing around implies peace, security and prosperity. Like much of Biblical prophecy, as well as speaking to the present, Zechariah also speaks about the future. The coming of God’s Kingdom where love will reign supreme.
What does it mean for you, in your current circumstances be a peacemaker?
What might God be asking you to do? (Or not to do?)
Give thanks to God for the peacemakers.
Give thanks to God for those who make sacrifices for the wellbeing of others.
In Zechariahs vision, there is a promise of prosperity and peace for the youngest and oldest members of the community. It is a curious contrast that these two group are always the first to suffer when things go wrong.
Remember children unable to go out to play or go to school
Remember the elderly isolated from families and friends and especially burnable to Covid 19.
Rejoice that love will always overcome evil and God will always have the last word!”
Jesus said: ‘I am the good shepherd’ and so we pray:
Good Shepherd, watch over us today In all we face and experience.
Never leave us or forsake us and journey with us always.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Good Shepherd, you know us as no-one else knows us.
Guard us and keep us, As you guard and keep those whom we love. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Good Shepherd, we pray for the sick and the lonely;
For the anxious and the bereaved; for those whose pain is beyond our comprehension.
We stand with them and commend them to your care. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Good Shepherd, we pray for the carers in hospitals and in homes and for all who serve the needs of others.
May the example of living compassion Inspire us in our care for others. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Good Shepherd, you know the depths of our heart and the fears which are ours. Speak into the depths of our heart and calm our fears. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Good Shepherd, you know us by our name and our identity is not hidden from you. Gather us to yourself as a shepherd gathers the sheep, that we might know your Name.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Prayer for peacemakers
we dream of a world free of poverty and oppression,
and we yearn for a world free of vengeance and violence.
we pray for your peace.
When our hearts ache for the victims of war and oppression,
help us to remember that you healed people simply by touching them…,
and give us faith in our ability to comfort and heal bodies and minds and spirits that have been broken by violence.
When the injustice of this world seems too much for us to handle, help us to remember that you fed five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish…,
and give us hope that what we have to offer will turn out to be enough, too.
When fear of the power and opinions of others tempts us not to speak up for the least among us, help us to remember that you dared to turn over the tables of money changers…,
and give us the courage to risk following you without counting the cost.
When we feel ourselves fill with anger at those who are violent and oppressive, help us remember that you prayed for those who killed you…, and give us compassion for our enemies, too.
When we tell ourselves that we have given all we can to bring peace to this world, help us to remember your sacrifice… ,
and give us the miracle of losing a little more of ourselves
in serving you and our neighbours. Walk with us, Lord, as we answer your call to be peacemakers.
Increase our compassion, our generosity and our hospitality for the least of your children. Give us the courage, the patience, the serenity, the self-honesty and the gentleness of spirit that are needed in a world filled with turmoil and terror. Amen.
(written by Jack Knox, pastor of Salem (Oregon) Mennonite Church)
A prayer for children
As a tickle teased
As a hurt hugged
As a giggle shared
As a stomach filled
As a hand held
As a tear smoothed,
Bring peace to your little ones Gentle God
As a world loved
As a life lived
As a child cherished.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
A Celtic Blessing
The deep peace of the powerful wave be with you,
The deep peace of the air that moves be with you,
The deep peace of the water that flows be with you,
The deep peace of the silent land be with you,
The deep peace of the shining stars be with you,
The deep peace of the Creator,
Redeemer and the Spirit of Peace be with you.
Make me a channel olf your peace