This article first appeared in the May 2018 issue of our parish magazine, and was written against a backdrop of chemical attacks and reprisal bombings in Syria, protracted Brexit negotiations, teenage mental health issues at an all time high, endemic loneliness amongst the elderly in our society, poverty and food banks as a norm in the UK, the world’s oceans clogged up with plastics, more high school shootings in the USA, grotesque power-posturing by political world leaders, and countless other atrocities at home and around the world.
At this time in our liturgical calendar we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and his gift to us of peace (that was the greeting he used in every appearance to his disciples). In a few weeks we will celebrate his Ascension, and a few days later the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. All truly wonderful gifts. The best thing we, as Christians, can hope to do with these gifts is to pass them on to others.
It is too easy to listen to the news headlines and wring our hands in despair. What can we do? We’re just individuals struggling to keep our heads above water. Through small gestures though we can make huge differences. Choose to take shopping bags with you to the supermarket. Choose to take a thermal mug with you to the coffee shop, refuse plastic straws, smile at people you pass in the street, offer kind words to people in bus shelters and shop doorways. Choose to be part of the solution. Keep praying for wisdom from those in government, and for positive changes. You might find this hymn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVNiy2cdiM4) helpful:
1. For everyone born, a place at the table,
For everyone born, clean water and bread,
A shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
For everyone born, a star overhead.
And God will delight
When we are creators of justice and joy,
Yes, God will delight
When we are creators of justice,
Justice and joy!
2. For woman and man, a place at the table,
Revising the roles, deciding the share,
With wisdom and grace, dividing the power,
For woman and man, a system that’s fair.
3. For young and for old, a place at the table,
A voice to be heard, a part in the song,
The hands of a child in hands kind and wrinkled,
For young and for old, the right to belong.
4. For just and unjust a place at the table,
Abuser, abused, with need to forgive,
In anger, in hurt, a mind-set of mercy,
For just and unjust, a new way to live.
5. For everyone born, a place at the table,
To live without fear, and simply to be,
To work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
For everyone born, the right to be free.
[Shirley Erena Murray] [© 1998 Hope Publishing Co]
Some churches also choose to add a final verse:
For gay and for straight, a place at the table,
A covenant shared, a welcoming space.
A rainbow of race and gender and colour,
For gay and for straight, the chalice of grace.
Peace be with you.