It’s been a hell of a week…. both for all tragically caught up first hand in the awful events of Monday evening, and for those of us within our city, coming to terms with what has happened on our doorstep. Even now, the sounds of a helicopter above, or ambulances making their way to the MRI, send a shudder down my spine, taking me back to the early hours of Tuesday morning, when night time peace outside was replaced with a cacophony of sounds, mirroring the ever worsening news as conveyed by the media.
At times such as this, when it’s hard to pray, I’m grateful for the suggestions of others, and as such found this prayer issued by our diocese a helpful starting point:
God of compassion,
you hear the cries of all who are in trouble or distress;
accept our prayers for those whose lives are affected by the bombing in Manchester;
We pray especially for those suddenly facing a future without a child, parent or loved one,
young ones who are in deep distress
those who are injured, traumatized or awaiting news
strengthen them in their hour of need,
grant them perseverance and courage to face the future
and be to them a firm foundation on which to build their lives;
this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Over the last few days I’ve also received a good number of texts and emails, not just from friends but others less closely connected, whose love and concern for our community has been touching; folk such as Mae (a former placement student) who journeyed with us just a short while but for whom this place and its people still holds a special place in her heart, even though now far away.
Today the church marks Ascension Day, Jesus’ return to the Father. However this departure didn’t leave his followers then and now further away from his love and care, but opened up the possibilities of a support network, even more comprehensive than our earthly technology might allow. May we as a part of that interconnected family (as we reflected on last week), know that we remain in touch with our heavenly Father, and seek to be with one another more. I leave you with the opening prayer from today's morning service;
Blessed are you, Lord of heaven and earth,
to you be glory and praise for ever.
From the darkness of death you have raised your Christ
to the right hand of your majesty on high.
The pioneer of our faith, his passion accomplished,
has opened for us the way to heaven
and sends on us the promised Spirit.
May we be ready to follow the Way
and so be brought to the glory of his presence
where songs of triumph for ever sound:
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.