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Rachel is Weeping by Mary Cotes

God of justice and compassion,
We pray today for mothers who are weeping.

Remembering the mothers of Bethlehem,
We pray for the women whose children have died in war or violence,
As fodder for the bombs,
Victims of terror,
As soldiers too young to fight.

Rachel is weeping for her children,
And we lift her cry to you.

We pray for the women whose unborn children have died because of poverty,
For lack of ante-natal care,
For want of expertise, medicine and equipment
For need of access to a hospital.
Rachel is weeping for her children
And we lift her cry to you.

We pray for the women whose children’s lives are threatened by hunger,
Whose harvests have dwindled,
Whose crops have failed,
Whose earth has become desert due to climate change.

Rachel is weeping for her children
And we lift her cry to you.

God of justice and compassion,
Help us to see mirrored in Rachel’s tears
A river rising to the ears of heaven,
thundering against injustice as it flows.
May its torrent baptise us more truly
into the life of Christ’s disciples
who act and pray for your kingdom to come.  Amen.

(Amos 5:24; Matt.2:13-18; Rom.6:3)
Pieta at Nain by Mary Taylor
Mourning for an only son,
the widow, bereft, follows the bier.
Two crowds meet, the one alive and excited,
the other occupied with the offices of death.
And in the middle, Jesus;
moved by compassion;
moved by seeing into the future;
Jerusalem-bound with Mary, his mother.

The time scales slip.
There will be a long pieta.
And not until the third day will the son
be given back.

But for now, the widow is blessed,
‘God has favoured us!’
‘A prophet is amongst us!’

Another Place Reflection by Linda Hopkins
Ebb and flow - a recurrent or rhythmical pattern of coming and going or decline and re-growth.

Read John 21: 1-19

Another Place

Along the beach ‘at the end of the road’ of the house where I grew up in Sefton, Merseyside and half a mile from our church building is the art installation Another Place.  100 cast iron figures of artist Antony Gormley set at various intervals along the tide line for approximately 2 miles on Crosby beach all looking out to sea.  They were a cause of controversy when, originally, they were to stay for a year.  The local council and various groups lobbied for them to stay permanently, whilst some locals couldn’t see what all the fuss was about and wondered why people would want them there.  Some think they’re rude: the nakedness. Others think they are a health and safety hazard.  Many love them, including me!

Catch them at different times of day and they’re completely different.  Sometimes submerged, or head only just visible in the water, sometimes standing still amidst unforgiving crashing waves.  Others are high above the sands, their plinths in view as the sand erodes beneath them.  Others covered, belly deep in the sandbanks.  Barnacled, dressed-up in clothing, yarn bombed. Worn, rusted, reflecting different light. Mysterious, odd, and disturbingly naked; human.  

And fellow humans interact with them, as they, the figures, interact with their surroundings; a shipping lane from the city in this otherwise ordinary suburb out to the Irish Sea.

The purpose of the sculpture for Gormley is about human interaction with the elements, how the ebb and flow of the tides and the physical elements impact this peculiar body (as he calls it).  And there is no romanticism here. Gormley says of the sculpture, ‘it is no hero, no ideal, just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet.’

I invite you to reflect on this other encounter on the beach of a particular and peculiar unique body of the risen Jesus; the encounter of nature – fish and lots of them, for the disciples.  And the ebb and flow, the coming and going, the new and the old, that which needs to die and that which is a sign of re-growth…and reflect too on what it means to be human and a follower in an ever-changing environment.  

Use the images to aid your reflection.  You can print them out.  
This reflection is also available below:

The Festival by Emma Nash
The festival was held every year. Christians gathered from all over the country, in church or social groups, to spend a few days together worshipping God. They loved the energy that was generated by so many worshippers gathered together with one purpose.

In the mornings they attended Bible studies taught by world-renowned scholars. People got up early and queued up with their Bibles, notebooks and early morning coffee to hear the great teachers. They listened as gradually their biblical knowledge was stripped away little by little, and they left every session knowing less than they had when they went in.

In the afternoons many people attended a great marketplace in the middle of the venue where tables were piled high with books, clothing and other supplies. People brought bags of good-quality clothes to be donated to homeless charities; Bibles to be sent to countries where most Christians could not afford or even get hold of a Bible; toys and other trinkets to be sold in charity shops to raise money for good causes. Day by day the piles increased, and volunteers sifted through the mountains of stuff, sorting donations.

It was in the evenings that the really exciting things happened, however. Thousands gathered in the largest of the venues as the worship band began to play beautiful songs of lament. Everyone cried as they wept for love of God’s hurting world. Then someone got up to speak about the power of prayer. People with a special story to tell were invited to step forward. They spoke of chronic illnesses; devastating bereavements; painful failures. Then a time of prayer ministry began. The happy and the whole came forward and people laid hands on them and prayed. The Spirit moved in great power, and they walked away limping.
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Weekly reflections that you can use personally or in collaboration with a friend