How do we handle the news of the past month? I have heard too many stories of children dying – in famine in East Africa, as refugees drowning in the Med, in bomb-blasts in Manchester and London and recently in Kensington, just six miles from our home. One of our church staff team lives in the top of a tower block round the corner to us and he could see the blaze of Grenfell Towers from his flat. Every tragedy was avoidable but it is especially hard to swallow the fact that the last one apparently had a price-tag of £5000 for better cladding for the tower. Grenfell Towers has become a powerful symbol of the division between rich and poor in our country.
How do we respond as Christians? A friend, Sean Doherty pastors a church beside Grenfell Towers; this was his tweet from earlier this week,
“Very moving time together this morning @StfrancisW10. Nearly everyone has lost someone eg friend, classmate. So good to be together to pray.”
“So good to be together to pray.” At this time of unrest and anger and division in our world, God is calling us first to come together and pray so that we can act with his help. Tomorrow is being called a day of rage in London; I love it that the bishop of Kensington is calling us to choose prayer instead #adayofprayer.
How do we pray? Perhaps tears are the most powerful prayers of all. But I have been helped by praying from Isaiah 61, words that Jesus made his own,
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
“Father, we are overwhelmingly thankful that you anointed Jesus by your loving Spirit to proclaim good news for the poor. So much tragedy is fueled by poverty and we are deeply sorry for the times we have failed to stand for the poor. Thank you for all your church is doing in troubled places in our world; bless Sean and countless others as they share your love. Anoint us to proclaim your good news”.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
“We cry out for the broken-hearted. Send us in the power of your Spirit to bring freedom to those who are captive to anger and hatred. Comfort us and make us comforters to those who mourn.”
….to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
“You are the one who can bring beauty from ashes, even the ashes of Grenfell Towers. Your love is unfailing; all our hope is in you.”
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
“Father, how we love you that you rebuild our lives from the rubble. Empower us to rebuild and renew ruined cities. This is the day of your favour – of your shining face. May we shine in every dark place so that the splendor of your love may be known.”