Prayer: safe to shore

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

When we read the news it’s hard not to be worried about our world. It’s hard to hear about the pain our fellow people are going through.

I was really struck last week when we sang the song “My Lighthouse”:

I will trust the promise
You will carry me safe to shore

I found it comforting to sing those words, and then I was brought up short by them. Will you carry us safe to shore?

It’s too late for the hundreds of people who drowned off the coast of Greece in June. You didn’t bring them safe to shore: they drowned in the terrifying ocean. We didn’t bring them safe to shore: we were too busy building our Hostile Environment back at home.

I was also struck last week by these words in the song “So will I”:

I can see Your heart eight billion different ways
Every precious one a child You died to save

Can we trust you were with those children trapped deep in the hull of that boat? God, please can we? Is there some comfort in believing they might be with you now?

Is it too late for the next crowd of people huddling onto the next boat? Maybe they set off this morning, full of hope for a new life away from violence and war.

It’s too late to stop the world’s temperature rising one degree – it’s already happened, and pretty much everyone agrees it’s too late to stop it rising past one and half. We don’t really know whether it’s already too late to stop it rising four degrees, with the devastation that will involve. Will you carry us safe to shore?

It’s too late for Ate Gloria who was so concerned about the damage to her grandchildren’s health from an open coal storage facility joint-owned by a British company that she organised a petition and campaign, and was killed in front of her grandchildren by two unknown assassins. Too late for the four people a week who, like her, are killed for defending their land and their health against destruction by companies who supply food and energy to people like us.

It’s too late to prevent the damage to people’s health by smoke from the fires in Canada and Australia. It’s too late to rescue the people killed, or to save homes and businesses destroyed, by flooding in Bangladesh or Germany. Is it too late for people living in coastal cities like Bangkok, Amsterdam, Cardiff, London?

Lord, how can we respond? We have built a dazzling statue of wealth and power and its feet are clay because it is built on the suffering and oppression of our fellow people. We long for your triumph. We hope for rescue.

Maybe we can repent. If we, the people in this room, repent, would that mean anything? What would it look like for us to repent as a country, or as a world? Will you carry us safe to shore?

Many of us here have enough problems that the last thing we need is someone like me going on about stuff like this. We pray for those of us who are unwell – please give people to provide the care they need. We pray for those of us who are out of work, or working in bad conditions – please give good work, and courage to look for it. We pray for those of us trapped in hard relationships – give freedom to escape where needed; give courage to turn away from wrong behaviour; give reconciliation and forgiveness.

We are here because we believe, sometimes with confidence and sometimes with none, that you are here, and that you are good.

We will trust the promise
You will carry us safe to shore

Help us understand. Help us be part of what you are doing.


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