Homelessness at Christmas time - a reflection by Janice Clark
your protection for us
is made known
in images of rock and mountain,
wings and arms,
tent and fold.
A protection that makes us
feel safe, secure, and confident -
with knowledge and assurance that removes
our vulnerability, and our loneliness,
our fears and our doubts.
You have promised to be a constant presence,
light, warmth and comfort,
never failing, always near.
And yet, within your world
thousands of people lack shelter
and cannot really call where they live
Their lives are impoverished,
living in a space put together
from whatever scraps they can gather.
The rain leaks through,
the heat of the sun is brutal,
the dust irritates
and water and airborne diseases flourish.
Yet for many this is their home
where new life is conceived,
where love is shown,
where characters are formed,
where faith is passed on
and where an understanding of your protection
God, fully human, yet fully divine,
you know what it is like
to be have no real home -
born into a stable,
no vacancies in the places of hospitality,
forced to flee as a refugee
with life threatening attempts on your life.
In the seasons of Advent and Christmas
your frailty is remembered,
your vulnerability acknowledged,
your purpose for the world revered.
Come again, to give protection
Come again to strengthen the weak
and to subdue the proud.
Come to our own vulnerability
and enable all to offer
hope to a world in need.
Janice Clark is a Methodist local preacher. She is a member of the Scottish Churches Housing Action board and Regional Development Officer, Scotland, for Habitat for Humanity.
It was Christmas Eve and the world stood still - a poem by Tim Carter
It was Christmas Eve
And the world stood still
Just for a moment
Might it be that this time
This time of all times
The promise would be fulfilled
And the wars would end
And the crying cease
And the people join hands in unity?
Might it be this time
This time of all times?
Lord today we pray for victims of fire, flood earthquake, famine or disease. For those whom disaster has left homeless, injured or bereaved and today our thoughts and prayers are especially with the people of the US Gulf Coast states and particularly with the people of New Orleans and Biloxi.
Give all who suffer the love that bears all things, believes all things , hopes all things. Be the support of all who give their strength, their skill and their stamina in a ministry of providing relief. We ask you to open our hearts in generosity and prayer that we may also be partners and support their commitment to bring relief to the thousands in need at this time.
Gracious Father, we thank You for the signing of the executive order for immigrant families to stay together. Thank You for being concerned for all humanity, including immigrant families. Thank You for Your presence, love and mercy towards these families. Lord God, Your ways are perfect. All of Your promises prove true. You are a shield for all who look to You for protection. There is no God except You, Lord. You are a solid rock.
Righteous Father, we command justice to continue to run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream for the immigrant families entrenched in the current atrocity that separated children from their parents in America! Lord, we rebuke the spirits of obstinance, chaos, and confusion and command peace to be still in the processing of these families. Lord, continue to hear the cries of these families and rescue them from trouble. We expect that You will meet their needs speedily from Your glorious riches which have been given in Christ Jesus.
Holy Spirit, help President Donald Trump and Congress to reach a scriptural resolution for this issue. Give them no rest until it is done! Touch the hearts of the United States Border Patrol men and women and help them to treat the families, especially the children, fairly and with compassion. Remind them of the legacy of America in which many families have found better economic opportunities and refuge throughout history. Lord, please have mercy on our nation! Convict the hearts of those who are preying on the fears of these families to manipulate them. As the Body of Christ, please show us what actions we are to take and how we are to extend Your love and grace to these families.
Abba Father, forgive our leaders for the dehumanizing and unscriptural acts of separating immigrant families. Holy Spirit, help our nation to be forgiving.
Holy Spirit, help our citizens not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.\
Triumphant God, You are King! The mountains melt like wax before You, Lord. The heavens proclaim Your righteousness; every nation sees Your glory! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“Be still, and know that I am God”
O God, O God, my God, our world is full of anything but stillness. There is no silence to be found, I fear; no quiet about. We hear of your “still small voice”, we know You have taught that there is virtue in silence, we yearn for “green pastures” and “still waters” where You can restore our souls.
But all around us are sounds we cannot escape. The crack and pop of gunfire in schools in the United States. The screams of targeted children, the moans of the wounded, the sirens of police and ambulances, the shouts and gasps of families. These echo the bomb blasts of terrorists and bomb-strikes of armies in Syria and Afghanistan and Iraq, and the aftermath of it all. So close to home.
We hear the loud voices of those who demand change, or peace, or justice. We hear the chatter of politicians and pundits who explain away change, or peace, or justice. And now we hear a children’s chorus of victims and survivors, reviving the ancient Biblical hope that “a little child shall lead them.” We hear the calls for action, for accountability. And we hear the mockery and insults as clearly as we hear the passion and demands.
We hear the pleas of refugees in camps in Bangladesh and Kenya and Lebanon, and migrants on the seas; we hear the scratch of the pen across the paper as decisions are made about who shall be free or turned away. We hear the whimpering of the hungry, the wailing of the mournful who do not feel blessed.
God, we hear it all, and we are caught in-between. We want silence and stillness in order to know You, and to hear You. But we know we should not block out such sounds. Our world cries out to us, as surely as they cry out to You. In partnership with You we hear. Lord, as much as we might wish to be, we pray for, an exemption. Be known to us through all these sounds. Amen.