November is the month of Remembering
Week 3: As I travel through the bad and good…
Read: Psalm 51:
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy,
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Read: Isaiah 43:18-19:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
I enjoy a bit of nostalgia as much as the next woman, possibly more. I spend ages when I have to go up in loft for something because I am easily distracted by boxes of old stuff that bring back memories of the past – smiling photos, bits and bobs, even things that belonged to family that have now, somehow, ended up with me. Memory can be a lovely thing.
But not all memories are happy. We are troubled by memories of things we have done that we shouldn’t, or not done that we should; memories of things done to us and to people we love. Situations that rumble on, as yet unresolved. How do we continue to live well while bearing our own unsatisfactoriness and that of others – and its consequences?
These are heavy burdens to carry. The gospel urges us to put down our burdens and live more in a spirit of acceptance and forgiveness, of others and ourselves. This is easy to say and more difficult to do. Often it is not a simple process and, sometimes, a lot has to happen before it can even be the right thing to do. Knowing that God forgives doesn’t necessarily make things right between people. We remember that the risen Christ still bore the scars of the hurt that had been done to him.
Still we pray, ‘Forgive us our sins’; in the same breath we ask that God’s forgiveness should be the model for how we live with others. Maybe living this part of the Lord’s prayer, like ‘Thy Kingdom come…’ is another aspect of the ‘now, and not yet’ life of God’s people.
And so we pray:
We live with the burden of our life’s past stories. Some of us are hard-wired with greater resilience to deal with them. Some of us have harder stories with heavier burdens.
We hold before you, Lord, the places in life that are difficult: families, churches, neighbourhoods, nations. The pain of the wrong of others; the pain of the wrong we have done; the pain of seemingly un-resolvable situations.
Whatever our story, your cross breaks through into this space, bringing at-one-ment and reconciliation. Ease us on our journey to knowledge of your great love for us and for all people. With Hagar we say, ‘You are the God who sees me’. We know that, with you, there is justice. We know that with you there is grace.
(Take pause to acknowledge your wrongdoing and the wrong to you. Lay these before the God of Justice.
And now, be thankful for God’s grace in your life – for sins forgiven, burdens shared, the God who makes all things new. Lean into God’s love.)
Lord, I am a creature of time. I live with my past and my future.
As you lift the weight of my burden, help me to lift the burden of others.
Help me to balance the cries for mercy with the cries for justice and to stand for both
As you bring reconciliation, help me to be a beating heart of reconciliation in places of dis-ease.
Bring to your world life in its fullness.
We ask our prayers through the Prince of Peace.
For further action: if it is right for you, this week do that good deed that you have been putting off.
Barbara Easton World Federation President Britain & Ireland Unit