As I look out at the moon. I am reminded of the Cathedral in Gloucester and one Ash Wednesday, which by co – incidence
fell on the same day as the Islamic New Year. As I walked home from Evensong and looked up at the fragile crescent moon above the pale floodlit
tower, peace seemed so real, so tangible. So tantalisingly close. There above me were the crescent and the cross, symbols of two major faiths together in one icon of absolute beauty. A prayer so evocative, so eternal that for a moment everything seemed full
of the freshness of new life.
But now as then, a moment listening to the news, more deaths, more violence, more hatred ...... brought me back to the reality of the divided world. Divided by faith, creed, culture, economics......
No wonder we find
it hard to trust in the Prince of Peace, and a God of love supposedly able to embrace all people, all cultures, all creeds. Suffering and war do knock our faith in a loving God, vandalise it even. But thank God they needn't destroy it, because at the cornerstone
of that faith is Jesus. Who on the one hand was himself at the mercy of the world and who on the other was and is the mercy of God FOR the world. For its healing, its redemption. War, hatred, suffering, indifference, cruelty, all these things break the heart
of love. But they can't break the power of love.
God was and is passionately interested in all his people and creatures and weeps and grieves more deeply than we can imagine. But the love he embodies in Christ is stronger than the worst we can do to each
other. Stronger than death itself and even the many waters of religious hatred cannot quench it.
That doesn't make our faith a passive acceptance of evil. It doesn't stop us raging at God at the pain of seeing beheadings, bombs, refugees drowning, children starving
before they have even had a chance at life. If our prayers are to be real or in any way vital then they must at times be as angry as they are reverent, which is the ongoing power of the psalms- which above all else are real. Uncomfortable yes- but real. Real
relationships are about real emotions and our relationship with God is as real as a relationship can get, although it has to live with the paradox of the closest presence and the deepest absence.
We are called to look suffering full in the face and to challenge
the cries of 'Crucify, crucify' not just during Lent but whenever we see hatred or prejudice or fear. Whenever we see Christs form in the broken and oppressed people and creatures of this beautiful and brutal world. We are called to stand alongside peoples
of all faith and none. Not in superiority, but in penitence and humility. We are all in this together, whatever our faith, whatever we call ourselves we are in this mishmash world of joy and tragedy, of wonder and of horror together. Tears and laughter. Pain
and hope know no barriers of language. They are universal as God is universal and as our need to empty our hearts of all that divides us is universal.
Each day as I look at the moon and look at the cross I can only pray Father forgive. Not in despair but in
hope. Trusting and believing that the crescent and the cross can meet, can embrace, can make peace and can make our world a place we would all want our children and grand children to grow up in and thrive in.
Hope is fragile. Hope is being bombarded. But
hope is love refusing to give in Refusing to surrender to hatred.
In the time I have taken to write this, lives will have been taken in the name of religion, in places far removed from the safety of my little cabin. That's the reality. That's the tragedy.
That's the choice. Give up or go on.
I commit to choosing to go on......
A new flame, a new day, a new year, a new beginning......
Light a candle and sit quietly and reflect on your hopes for 2016
Opening Prayer : As the new year stretches out
before us like a blank canvas Grant us creator God, the faith to draw with integrity, the boldness to use new colours, and the courage to paint the dreams of our hearts to your glory Amen.
A litany of commitment to one another, to all creation and to future generations at the beginning of a new year
God of all beginnings and all endings, of all moments and all lifetimes. You called forth the first day, blessed it with the gift of light and
saw that it was good. Forgive us all for the lights we have put out, carelessly, selfishly, cruelly:
The light of the dignity of the poor, the light of hope for the imprisoned. The light of freedom for the minorities. The light of friendship for the displace. The
light of justice for the oppressed. The light of childhood for the abused.
Re-kindle in us the light of your love
That we may bring others out of darkness
You created all living things, plants, creatures, human beings and
you saw that they were good. Forgive us for all that we have destroyed through indifference, ignorance and greed:
of the fragile, the habitat of the beautiful. The freedom of the wild, the homes of the defenceless. The futures of the voiceless, the lives of the vulnerable.
Nurture in us the seeds of your love
That we may bear fruits of healing
You blessed the world through the birth of your Son. Bless us afresh at the birth of this new year, with the vision, the courage and the compassion
to work for:
Reconciliation, not security. Justice, not expedience. Peace not privilege. Sensitivity not ease. The good of the earth
not the good of ourselves, and always for the generations to come.
Embrace us with the torn hands of your love.
That we may embrace one another.