“When we pray, we stand at the centre of the great mystery of divine compassion”. (Henri Nouwen)
Lord our God,
grant us warmth,
grant us calm,
grant us hope
on our journey into a new year.
We make our prayer in Jesus’s name. Amen.
Scripture 1 John 4:7-10
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35 When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’ 37 But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?’ 38 And he said to them, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ 39 Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And all ate and were filled; 43 and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute – the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words – we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever-widening circle will reach around the world.
We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and dear God – please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbour, to love our enemy as well as our friend.
How can we break bread
and not remember those who have no bread?
How can we meet together
and not remember those separated
from their families and friends?
How can we shelter here
and not remember those whose only shelter
is a refugee camp or a cardboard box?
How can we speak of peace
and not remember those whose peace is shattered
by constant fear and the rattle of guns?
We do remember them, Lord,
and ask you to hold them close to your loving heart.
We bring our own intentions and petitions
In the full tide of the day and in its ebbing,
in the rising of the sun and its setting,
the mighty God be with you,
the loving God protect you,
the holy God guide you.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.