lamenting and rejoicing

although we are weeping, lord help us keep sowing the seeds of your kingdom for the day you will reap them. (psalm 126. and sung by Bifrost Arts)

When I’m stuck, as I found myself yesterday, in the mire of the pain that the world is creating, I tend to forget what God is doing.

I get stuck in the weeping. I forget to keep sowing. This week, however, I’ve been doing the Christmas assemblies at the Academy, and they’re a perfect mix of that- recognising the brokenness we see around us and also the fact that Jesus came at a time like this, for a time like this.

I didn’t know until recently that almost 1 in 113 people is currently an asylum seeker or refugee. (source) The UK isn’t as friendly to these people as we should be. The space that we make for each other is important, it’s a recognition of how much space we think we deserve. (yet these ‘others’ are people too, why do they not deserve as much space as we take up?) My talk every morning this week has focused on how we Christians have a secure hope to base our lives on (Hebrews 6.19, 10.22) and so we are secure in knowing that we have ‘enough’. Enough allows, calls, demands generosity of us. This is what I’m telling the students every day, and what I’m reminding myself of every day. It’s timely, that’s for sure.

I’m reminded that in the suffering of the world, people are working hard to see justice come, to set the captives free, to restore sight to the blind. If all we can do is give money, that’s enough. There’s no perfect answer. There’s just generosity, and enough.

I work with a student on a Wednesday afternoon, and today we took the time to interview a friend from an older generation.  The time and care that was given this afternoon just warmed my heart. If nothing else, the way my friend and student interacted is an example of sowing kingdom seeds that I will not forget quickly.

He who goes out weeping, 
    carrying seeds to sow,
will return with songs of joy, 
    carrying sheaves with him. 
                      psalm 126.6
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How…!

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was a queen among the provinces has now become a slave. Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.

Lamentations seems like the only place to go this morning. I spent the first part of the day reading Micah, where God promises to rise up the destroyed. They will become the destroyer. I had a Christmas assembly at the Academy, and I talked about how Jesus is our hope, and how Jesus being in the story, on the scene, means Christians get to be generous, get to be hospitable.

And then I got on Twitter, after some frustration formatting Christmas party invites for kids at my lunch club, and was overcome with the grief that the world is facing. Aleppo, the death penalty (and those facing it), Trump…

How…!

That’s all I had in me to respond. So I opened Lamentations. Those are the first two verses.

and pieces of this prayer from the Northumbria community:

Teach me to hear that story, 
through each person, 
to cradle a sense of wonder 
in their life, 
to honour the hard-earned wisdom 
of their sufferings 
to waken their joy
that the King of all kings
stoops down
to wash their feet, 
and looking up 
into their face
says, 
'I know - I understand.'