Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 15th January 2023
Dear Friends, The annual “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”, January 18-25, which is observed in many countries, is here again and Caroline Pybus, who has been involved locally with … Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 15th January 2023
The annual “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”, January 18-25, which is observed in many countries, is here again and Caroline Pybus, who has been involved locally with other churches for a long time, is encouraging us to take note of it. I have had some significant experiences with those of different Christian traditions during my life. I have learnt to see Christian unity not as all believers merging into one denomination but as all accepting and benefitting from the others as we each find the place in which our personal journey takes us. I have been humbled by the ways in which I have seen discipleship lived out and witness for justice and peace made by people nurtured in so many different ways. So have you, probably.
Quaker as I am, I have been challenged and strengthened by prepared services of worship and study materials from other sources. The daily meditations and outline service published by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland for this year’s Week* take racial justice for their central theme and draw on reflections of Christians in Minnesota following the murder of George Floyd as well as the British experience after the killing of Stephen Lawrence. Much of this is disturbing, not comforting, and picks up the need to value diversity, as is often expressed in our weekly messages.
The outline service concludes with a “Franciscan blessing” which seemed to me just too up-to-date to be from St Francis’ time, even if it is in his spirit, so I found out that it is also called “A Non-traditional Blessing” and was written for a student group in 1985 by Ruth Fox, an American Benedictine nun. As with my ecumenical findings in general, I am less bothered about where they come from than what they have to say to me. So I share it with you:
“May God bless you with discomfort,
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears,
to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
and turn their pain to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.”
On behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Theresa Samms, Nancy Wall)