For the month of October, Linda Crossley reflects and offers prayers through hymns.
My starting point for these reflections was a number of hymns that have special meaning and significance for me in my Christian journey.
The last of these is StF 615, “Let love be real, in giving and receiving”. I am not quite sure just when it was, but I clearly recall where and how I first heard this. It was in an MWiB Task Group meeting in Methodist Church House, Alison Judd introduced us to it, and we sang it quietly and prayerfully together, 5 or 6 of us seated round a table, holding hands.
As someone who in my earlier life was subject, to a degree, to coercive control in a relationship, I was moved to tears by some of the phrases used. Verse 3 says “Let love be real, with no manipulation, no secret wish to harness or control”. Sadly, many women in this country and around the world do not experience this real love, but the opposite. MWiB and Women’s Network before it, have raised awareness within the church of the issue of domestic violence, of the sexual assaults which often accompany the trafficking of women and girls, and of the ongoing manipulation and control experienced by women and girls in India, particularly but not only amongst the Dalits.
Yet we only have to look at the murders this year in London of two innocent young women, Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, at the hands of strangers, to see that violence against women continues and is close to home. Sometimes it seems to me that with grooming and the pressures of social media, we have gone significantly backwards in this country since I was in my 20s and 30s.
Like the Thursdays in Black movement, let us pray for an end to rape and violence against women and girls. And that they might all experience the love referred to in verse 2 – “Let love be real, not grasping or confining, that strange embrace that holds yet sets us free; that helps us face the risk of truly living, and makes us brave to be what we might be.”
Please click the button to download the complete set of prayers for the month.