Today I thought I would focus on the Prayer of Intercession and the hymns.
Before she led us in prayer, Joan directed our attention to some of the verses of TIS 690:
Beauty for brokenness. Hope for despair
Lord, in your suffering. This is our prayer
Bread for the children. Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset. Your kingdom increase!
Shelter for fragile lives. Cures for their ills
Work for the craftsman. Trade for their skills
Land for the dispossessed. Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause. Of those who can't speak
God of the poor. Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray. Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain. Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame…
Some people seem to live broken lives and the above words bring hope to anyone in such a situation. But all of us have times when we experience brokenness, despair and suffering. Whether such times are limited or prolonged, the belief cradled in the words above can lift us out of our desperate state.
The source of all this was reflected in the first line of Joan’s Prayer of Affirmation:
“God of everlasting love, who provides everything.”
The Prayer continued, raising our awareness that in everything we are dependent on God and that the transformation from despair to joy can only work as we surrender all we are, as individuals and as a congregation, into God’s keeping.
As Joan continued we were opened to an understanding of how suffering can take so many forms and how we as Christians must look to God so that we can alleviate the suffering of others.
It is easy to think we are not qualified or that we may be intruding but a hand outstretched in love allows another person in need to be aware of our offer to give any help we can, even if all we can do is sit and be with the suffering one.
Joan prayed for God’s guidance through the Spirit and that each of us, as Christians will seek to show God’s love to the world. If we try to carry out some plan of goodwill founded on our own ideas, we are sure to fail, because we cannot know what another needs, but God does.
This intention to follow God’s will was the idea in line one of the first hymn:
TIS 474, “Here in this place, new light streaming” with the same idea continuing until “make us your own” rounded off the ending.
And for those who think they are not good enough, the old favourite TIS 693 “Come as you are” gave the assurance that the invitation to be God’s child and to do God’s work is for everyone.
But we can't sit still hugging ourselves with our self satisfaction. TIS 531 “Sent forth by God’s blessing,” calls us to action so that others will benefit from God’s love through us.