23 February 2018
Prayer on hearing the News
7 drowned on school trip of Elim Christian school in Manukau,
Father on trial for murder of twin babies,
missing 15 year old girl in Christchurch found in the river
God of compassion,
You give us a land that is free and wonderful, with mountains that touch the sky
and forests that tumble to the sea.
A land we call Your Own,
filled with bush and lakes,
surrounded by mighty oceans teeming with fish and food for the taking.
Where the water is fresh and the air clear and flowing, with birdsong at dawn.
from crowded islands and jostling continents, carrying hope and the seeds of a new life,
risking the leaving,
embracing the new,
casting aside fears from the past,
seeking adventure and risktaking,
to live in this land which you created beautiful and wild …...and to be treated with respect.
Last week, our prayers for rain were answered,
to fill the lakes, to turn the brown land green.
But danger lay waiting in the cloud of the mountains,
for rain falls where it will,
there was no time to soak into the hard, drought-stricken land.
trickling, then running, into the waiting river.
With no warning, the rivers rose,
tearing trees from the banks where a stream had gently rippled by:
Taking lives of laughing children,
drowning hope and future,
bringing terror in the night and tears in days that seem to have no end.
We cry with the psalmist
for the parents and grandparents, friends and neighbours
of loved teachers, of children who have gone, with all those who have lost,
"Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel…………………
..but I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, You are my God.
My times are in your hand" [Psalm 31]
This is the grief of your own people,
who trust your way,
who belong to you,
the grief of those who sent them out to play in danger,
the what ifs, the guilt of surviving,
the facing of death,
the anguish of classmates,
the testing of faith which assumed only good things.
God be with them in their despair.
God who made the heavens and the earth,
the flowing streams and the need to risk,
remind them that there is there is no place where you cannot reach.
There is no journey which you have not traveled,
There are no people beyond your care,
God - with -us in Jesus.
Let us all hear the Easter words.
"Stay with us, Lord, for it is towards evening when darkness will fall. [Luke 24:29]
Stay with us, Lord, and with all people.
Stay with us with your love and kindness,
and lighten our darkness with your blessing.
When tragedy and disaster and distress touches our lives, it is to you that we turn with our questions and our need for reassurance and comfort.
And let us know, that even as people seem to be overwhelmed by all the forces against them,
"you are the God who says we are not alone.
You tell us to weep strongly,
be strongly afraid,
choose life strongly in faith
and you promise
"I will live with you in all of that".
Remind us that you are the One,
who swings from hill to mountain top,
who stands high in the depths of the deep pit,
who gasps free of the waters of drowning
and plants the cross shaped tree on the very shaking ground on which we stand,
as though our trembling earth is like a rock,
and claims a future for all of us which goes beyond death itself.
You are the one who calls us in a voice
which knows our name
and who always knows our pain,
who lifts our feet,
as though our life is held a saving hand and cherished forever " [adapted D. McRae-McMahon]
God of life,
hear our prayers for all who mourn, and for ourselves,
that we might bring life to others
and hear our thanks for the brave who searched and found
and those who live and give you praise.
Hear us in the name of the risen Jesus.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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