In March, we gathered at Bulphan Zion Chapel with friends from the churches in Orsett, Bulphan and Horndon for a beautiful ‘World Day of Prayer’ service, created by women from Slovenia, on the theme of ‘Come-Everything is ready,’ at the heart of which was an open invitation for all to come to God’s table. We heard stories of some of those coming to the table: wives, mothers and grandmothers, Roma people, refugees and migrant workers. Their stories painted a picture of the political and economic situation of Slovenia from the time it was a socialist-communist state to the present day. Whilst listening to these stories we reflected upon the fact that through prayer and commitment, change can be brought about. We asked God for forgiveness for our own silence in the face of injustice and asked him to help us to be a people of compassion and understanding with a commitment to working for freedom, justice and peace. Grateful thanks are due to Jane Barry who coordinated and organised this in such a thoughtful and creative way, and to our friends at the Zion Chapel for their kind hospitality.
The 2019 Mothering Sunday theme is ‘Nurturing hope in a broken world.’ This theme is particularly poignant at a time when the world is mourning the terrible loss of life in Christchurch New Zealand following the terrorist attacks on two mosques; when three young people have been crushed to death in Northern Ireland; when the world is still shocked by the shooting in Holland and when the lives of hundreds have been claimed by Cyclone Idai as it hit South Africa.
In the midst of all of this, with regard to the ongoing Brexit debate, our Diocesan Bishop, Bishop Stephen, called communities to come together to serve the common good, in our nation and in our relationship with the rest of Europe. And together with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, he invited us to join a national prayer initiative of five days. With this in mind, Horndon Church hosted a Benefice morning of prayer, during which people were invited to light candles, using the following prayer as a focus:
God of hope,
in these times of change,
unite our nation
and guide our leaders with your wisdom. Give us courage to overcome our fears, and help us to build a future
in which all may prosper and share; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is a lot going on in our world at the moment. Problems can feel overwhelming and, for those who are directly affected by disasters, the pain must be unbearable at times. But, as we approach Easter, whatever we face in our personal lives or in our world, we need to hold on to the fact that God is a God of hope. Because, at Easter we reflect upon not only the painful death, but the glorious resurrection of Jesus, which is what we remember every time we celebrate Holy Communion.
So, just as we did in the World Day of Prayer service, this Easter let’s continue to ask God to transform us into a people of compassion and understanding with a commitment to working for freedom, justice and peace in our world.
Do join us at any of our Holy Week and Easter services as we journey with Christ from pain and suffering into hope. We would love to see you.
With love and prayers,