Opening old wounds.

The cry for mercy and reconciliation.

Watching some of the riots and violent disturbances on the streets of towns and cities in Northern Ireland this week, has been deeply disturbing. They have brought back memories from the Troubles, when there was much sectarian violent conflict between catholic and protestant factions- knee capping, intimidation, shooting and car bombs.

Commentators and journalists have talked of different causes for this recurrence of violence recently- poverty, provocative words from political leaders on all sides, and the provisions of the Brexit agreement. These are all in danger of reopening old wounds.

My late husband served in Northern Ireland as part of his military career, and his experiences and memories have always reminded me of the price that is paid by all involved in violence- the traumatic memories and the risk of PTSD, as well as the physical injuries. The cost of conflict is so very high and long term, for all involved, and for their families.

The Christian community at Corrymeela, along with many others, have called for people to stand against violence, to show civic courage, and to work towards tolerance, dialogue and reconciliation.

The Corrymeela comment and prayer can be found here. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10158341299392547&id=76350897546

May we all do our best to work for justice and peace, so that the violence will diminish, and for peaceful but effective ways to be found to support vulnerable and anxious communities. May we pray without ceasing, for peace. Lord, have mercy.

‘ God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.’ 2 Corinthians 5:19

Gracious God, You long for all people to be reconciled with You in Christ, and also with one another. Forgive us for all the times that we fight and squabble. We pray especially for Northern Ireland, for the violence to stop, and for there to be a will to find a peaceful way forward. Lord Jesus, we know that for many, old memories and hurts are resurfacing, and old wounds being torn open. Forgive us. We give thanks for Corrymeela, and for all who work for peace. Holy spirit, bring lasting healing to all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The joy of photographs!

Light and space!

Lockdown seems to be lasting a long time- what an understatement this is! We know it is needed, to get the rates of virus transmission down, but it seems a bit endless, well actually completely endless.

It is a time of hibernation- when we are in a dormant state, everything seems slowed down, and going out to walk in the cold and rain can lose its appeal. It would be easy to feel a little down.

I am so impressed by people who have taken up knitting, done an on line course and learned a new language in lockdown! Such amazing self discipline and focus are needed.

One thing that can be remarkably beneficial, is to open up some old photo albums. Electronically stored photos are good too, but don’t quite have the same feel. Everytime you turn the page, you find a plethora of experiences, journeys and memories. They are mixed of course, sometimes people look a bit grumpy, and other times a moment of pure joy is captured- a night out with friends, a family holiday, an unexpected fun day out. Looking through photos, I am reminded of birthday meals, talking with dolphins, that trip to Moscow, swimming at Florida beaches, sunsets in Cyprus. I am reminded of all the ways that I am blessed.

I would encourage everyone to look at old photos. They remind us of family and friends, times of being together. They remind us of places we have traveled too, and the experience of different cultures and landscapes. They remind us of the richness of the lives that we have led.

God has blessed us, He watches over us in days of heartache,  He gives us days of song, He inspires us with His word, He reminds us of beauty  even out of ashes. We just need a little reminding at times.                                

     ‘I will praise you, O Lord, with all of my heart’   Psalm 9:1    

Dear God, in lockdown, we often live much of our life within four walls, which can seem pretty claustrophobic. We cry to You to help us, when we feel hemmed in, and ask that You remind us of the freedom of your holy spirit. Lord Jesus, forgive us that we have short memories of the joys of past days. Give us patience, thankful hearts, and a desire to connect and bless others in safe but thoughtful ways. Thankyou that your love is never restricted, but is unlimited at reaching each one of us, wherever we are, Amen.