December 2013


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Lord God,

whose Son, Jesus Christ,

understood people’s fear and pain

before they spoke of them,

we pray for those in hospital;

surround the frightened

with your tenderness;

give strength to those in pain;

hold the weak in your arms of love,

and give hope and patience

to those who are recovering;

we ask this through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen

Amen

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A Prayer for Peace in Syria

Spirit of wisdom and grace,

the power of truth and judgement;

we pray for all who are working for peace

in the tangled conflict of Syria today.

For international leaders holding a thread of control,

for the politicians holding a thread of power,

for the religious leaders holding a thread of authority,

for the fighters holding a thread of influence,

and the citizens clinging to a thread of hope.

Bring unity through the untangled order of justice.

Bring reconciliation through truthful dialogue.

Bring new life through patient diplomacy,

determined mediation and courageous peace-making.

We pray in the name of Christ,

our source of inspiration and confidence. Amen.

 

A Prayer for the Victims of the Syrian conflict

We pray for those damaged by the fighting in Syria.

To the wounded and injured:

Come Lord Jesus.

To the terrified who are living in shock:

Come Lord Jesus

To the hungry and homeless, refugee and exile:

Come Lord Jesus

To those bringing humanitarian aid:

Give protection Lord Jesus

To those administering medical assistance:

Give protection Lord Jesus.

To those offering counsel and care:

Give protection Lord Jesus.

For all making the sacrifice of love:

Give the strength of your Spirit

and the joy of your comfort.

In the hope of Christ we pray. Amen.

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God of compassion,

your love for humanity was revealed in Jesus,

whose earthly life began in the poverty of a stable

and ended in the pain and isolation of the cross:

we hold before you those who are homeless and cold

especially in this bitter weather.

Draw near and comfort them in spirit

and bless those who work to provide them

with shelter, food and friendship.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

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Lord God of compassion,
whose will is for peace built on righteousness,
we pray for peace in Gaza:
for an end to hostilities,
for comfort and help for all who suffer,
and for reconciliation between Palestine and Israel,
through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Amen.

People often complain that religion doesn’t make a difference – that people aren’t better because of it. So what difference does worship this morning make to our lives? Does Christmas mean anything?

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Yes – today makes a world of difference. For in the message of this Christmas morning God gives us so much that can inspire, console and refresh us. In Christmas God does not give us explanations. In our religion we cannot have answers to our questions for we do not comprehend the world and we are never going to. It is, and it remains for us a sometimes confused mystery of light and dark. Those us who work with and live with illness know this to be true. Illness shatters our illusions of a world where there are easy answers and all is security and peace.

 

No, God does not give us explanations he gives us himself in the shape and form of Jesus, his Son. The birth of that child in the stable means that god shares life on our terms and not his – and shares it in order to change it. In Jesus our life is shared and God expresses in the deepest way his love and presence and concern with us and for us. Today and every day God is with us. Today and everyday God cares for you – bothers about what you are feeling and thinking. So Christmas and religion does make a difference. A son gives us a life in which to live. A son gives us a life in which to live. A son, Jesus, expresses God’s

love and care for us.

 

So today as I wish you a happy Christmas my prayer is that you will feel the presence of a God who care and loves each one of you and that as we reflect on the Christmas message our lives might be changed by the God who was prepared to live the vulnerable life of a child in a hostile world for me and for vou. Amen

Georges_de_La_Tour_-_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_-_WGA12348[1] Last month I travelled to Paris for a short break and spent some time with in the Louvre. It was good to catch this wonderful painting by George de la Tour ‘ the Adoration of the Shepherds’. I captured some fragments of photographs and have been dwelling on it in these last hours as the rain lashes down and we all move full throttle into Christmas. Why? because the is a deep stillness  to this work and endless depth in the contours of the picture. look closely and what do you see? A dark stable. Mary and Joseph gazing at the sleeping child, wrapped in linen and lying in straw. the lamb is eating and Josephs frail little light reveals the rapt attention of the shepherds. There is a loving fascination as we have with all new life.

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Have you ever looked into the face of a baby and wondered what will become of them and their lives? Perhaps the Shepherds are wondering what all this means? when we look at our children the fragility of life fills our hearts with hope and fear. This is a world that of full opportunity and danger. De la Tour’s picture is remarkable because it suggests so poignantly all those natural human concerns that we might share with a little group gathered around the baby as they gaze on the beauty and vulnerability of a tiny baby.

DSC07448 This child seems to emit his own strange light – not the light of Josephs candle but a searching and spiritual light which shows up the faces and almost the inner realities of wonder and prayer and joy. This ordinary child casts light into the darkness and shows those individuals as spiritual and beautiful human beings -children of God and reflecting Gods image. The childs light shows them in God’s light – yes , their flaws and failures and weariness as human beings, beloved as Gods children, vulnerable themselves and in need of love.

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This child -light has the power to draw us in : to question – yes but also to worship and wonder; to see and search for that which can set us free for grace and love. This Nativity  shows us the heart of love; the sheer awe and wonder of God’s life. In it is the heart of love – our hope and our journey in the awe of Gods life lived for us and in us. It promises the joy, a deep and lasting joy that comes from knowing that we are loved by God in Christ.

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May the this story f divine love throw light on our lives. may we all have the gift of wonder and awe and worship in our lives. I pray that a spirit of awe may shape the picture of our lives.

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where the moon lives

 

From the tawny light

from the rainy nights

from the imagination finding

itself and more than itself

alone and more than alone

at the bottom of the well where the moon lives,

can you pull me

 

into December?

 

The black moon

turns away, its work done. A tenderness,

unspoken autumn.

We are faithful

only to the imagination. What the

imagination

seizes

as beauty must be truth. What holds you

to what you see of me is

that grasp alone.

 

From Denise Levertov, Everything that acts is actual

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