Thoughts for Wednesday 27th May, 2020

Psalm 99; 1 Kings 8:54-65; John 3:31-36

Wednesday 27 May - Rev. Jerry Eve

In our Psalm we have justice, righteousness, fairness and forgiveness; in our Old Testament reading we have peace, mercy (and shelter); and in our New Testament reading we have truth. I’m drawn today, however to the reference we have to Hamath Pass, otherwise known as the ‘entering in (or Entrance) of Hamath’.

Known nowadays as Hama, it’s the fourth largest city in Syria after Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. At 132 miles north of Damascus, it’s a very long way away from Jerusalem indeed. And yet in Old Testament times – and the entrance or pass is mentioned in Numbers, Joshua, Judges, here at 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezekiel and Amos – it was considered part of the Promised Land of Canaan. It was, in fact, the northern boundary.

Which, at times, was unfortunate for it therefore tended to be fought over. Beautifully situated on the banks of the Orontes River, the city is famous for its huge norias (wheels of pots) which are, I believe, purely decorative today but used to be used for irrigation, and to water gardens.

And I do say all that in the hope they have survived these torrid times. Hama was subject to a massacre in 1982, a siege in 2011 and an offensive in 2017. One of the great world-tragedies of modern times is this war which has been raging now, since 15 March 2011, for 9 years, 2 months, 1 week and 5 days. And throughout this time, it’s been extremely difficult to know why people are fighting, and what on earth is going on.

Even more difficult, of course, is to know when, and how, it can be stopped. It was news from there that led me earlier this year to write the following poem:

Flowers in the Arab Spring

Responding to news of tensions

between Sunni and Shia

I couldn’t help but think of

             Sonny and Cher,

and of how – although

the beat didn’t go on forever –

they were still able to learn that,

             after divorce and schism,

it is still possible to

             ‘put your little hand in mine.’

 

Let us pray:

(Prayer for the people of Syria)

Almighty and all powerful God, creator of the world and the nations

we bring before you all those caught up in the conflict in Syria.

 

We pray for an immediate ceasefire, for an end to violence against all civilians.

 

Give humanitarian organisations the space to assess the needs of those living in poverty and insecurity.

 

We pray for those who are experiencing the pain of personal loss, for families who are mourning the loss of loved ones

 

Comfort especially those who have friends and family members missing.

 

We pray for those caught up in the cycle of violence and bloodshed: give them a just peace.

 

We pray for those forced to flee their homes: keep them safe on their travels and arrival in foreign lands.

 

We pray for Christian Aid partners in neighbouring countries: guide them in their response to this situation.

 

We pray for those in positions of power who have the means to make a difference:

 

Guide the United Nations, and governments whose intervention might bring about peace.

 

We pray for the future of all countries where people have been willing to challenge unfair and unjust governments

 

We ask that the outcome will be a better future for all, and that the poor and marginalised will experience new lives of dignity and hope.

 

And we pray for ourselves, that we will not ignore their pleas for help.

 

That we may play our part in bringing about the change that they want to see,

 

Amen (Christian Aid).

 


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