Troubling times these may be. And many will prefer the seclusion of their own Hobbit holes to avoid the confusion.
“I don’t want to think or talk about it!”
And yet, if that sentiment remains widespread, then those who believe they know what to do to solve the problems will simply go ahead without any sustained opposition and:
- maintain the massive militarisation of international life to ensure that the future of the human community will depend upon the US maintaining its calling to maintain itself as “No.1”!
- build walls to keep out those on the other side – whether in Berlin by the GDR 1961, or Israel in 2004on the West Bank of Palestine or the US with respect to Mexico;
- maintain a naval presence to ensure that asylum seekers coming by boat will not reach the mainland and can be transported to off-shore detention centres;
- initiate military invasions whether legal or not as in Iraq in 2003;
- insist through corporately funded propaganda that on any political issue there are only ever two sides, opinions left and right of the entrenched political elite;
- take the local community’s name for its own commercial enterprise;
- that insists that children who attend publicly funded pre-schools should be taught the results of the latest theoretical explanation of parental oppression (a synthesis of Marx and Freud) in relation to how we learn how to dress ourselves;
- that marriage will now be viewed across the western world – and beyond that too – as a civil right, so that those supportive couples who can not be man and wife in life-long faithful union can nevertheless claim to have parliamentary legislative and judicial support to claim that they have “equal love” to married couples;
- that since public = secular that the appropriate stance for all religions is to keep their beliefs (including their political beliefs) private;
- that despite our love for sport – football, cricket, athletics, tennis, golf – we should simply pay the ridiculous price of attendance or watching a game on pay TV that then ensures the ridiculous payments to those who play in these over-rated events celebrating sport as if it is more than what it is – a game;
- tell us that all this is simply fate (or power or money, or ego) and that there is nothing we can do about any of these sad and demoralising states of affairs.
And there is, sadly, more of these kinds of deeply perplexing issues. And lumping them all together we can hear the distinct echo of the tempting chorus that tells us that if we think things are completely off beam we should simply retire to our Hobbit holes …
So what are we to do? What is to be done?
Every month, I compose a Litany of Prayer and Bible Reading, a contribution to the life of retirement home nearby, particularly for the Christians who welcome the opportunity of meeting together in that worshipful way. For the coming month I thought the Litany would reflect how the Kingdom of God, the rule of Christ, makes its ongoing impact upon “everyday life”. And so I looked through Deuteronomy for some suggestive passages. Maybe we could pray for the company that keeps our sewerage functioning in a healthy way. We are a coastal village and our pipes have to run a considerable from the treatment plant and its farm (see Deut 23:12-14).
I had begun to think about looking after the neighbour’s oxen, or sheep or donkey (Deut 22:1-4) and then came across verse 5. The discussion seems to change course there where, as I read it, the people of Israel are told about the integrity and propriety of male and female working clothes (5). Last week the Residence received a visiting entertainer for a “happy hour” who, some residents said, looked like and sounded a man in women’s clothing. Eyebrows were raised. I decided that rather than plunge the Litany into a discussion about the contemporary fad of cross-dressing as it spills out of the entertainment world even, into the “everyday life” of a Retirement Home for elderly people, we would not go down that path and instead focus upon the statutes of Deuteronomy 24.
Some might say, having read what I have just said, that our gathering for a Litany is now a gathering in such a “Hobbit hole”, a retreat, an attempt to avoid these perplexities thrust upon us in “everyday life”. Well I’m prone to let those of that interpretation make it – but our Litany is no retreat from reality; it is only one half-hour occasion during a month; it is open to all who might wish to attend and in lifting our prayers to the Almighty we are not trying to fool ourselves into believing we have somehow avoided the crazy fashions that now dominate the nooks and crannies of our public life. We are not doing more than praying and reading the Bible. And so we are not prone to so despise this “small thing” of but one half hour. In fact, this Litany is written to be followed, read and prayed in the midst of this serious declension away from the ways of the Lord in our “everyday life”.
We gather here together in Jesus’ Name to pray to You Lord.
We ask You to bend Your ear and come near.
We offer our praise, our thanks and requests
For all we need in order to live the life You have given us.
This Sunday morning, we also come to You as members of your family
With prayers for ourselves, our families and all our earthly neighbours.
Lord, give us all the wisdom we need to deal with our daily life,
May Your word be a lamp to our feet and a guide to our path.
We ask you Lord to receive our thanks and gratitude,
For all you have provided in the necessities of this life.
We continue to pray for our daily bread,
Lord remember farmers and all those who produce the food we need,
For those growing and harvesting or picking fruit,
For those fishing, keeping flocks, or taking cattle to market and abattoir.
For those in so many occupations who serve us,
Who work so that shelves of supermarkets give us so many choices,
Grant us wise kitchen workers and gifted cooks
to form our diet and prepare our food,
And thankyou for all who set the tables
and serve us when we dine.
We thankyou for those taking care of waste and rubbish,
Grant wisdom Lord so that it will be wisely and safely disposed of.
Grant us your Spirit to enable us to be good stewards,
So that the earth’s resources may be shared among all the earth’s people.
We thankyou for rains and pray those managing the water,
As it is collected in dams and then as it flows through our taps,
We thankyou that we have reliable gas and electricity supply,
Giving us light, keeping us warm when it is cold, cool when it is warm.
Thankyou Lord for those who make our clothes,
For those who construct our walking frames,
For those who publish our books,
For writers whose articles we read in our newspapers.
Thankyou for those who visit to entertain,
And for those who bring a dog to cheer us.
Bless our local community with loving kindness,
And continue to bless us, we pray, here in this our home.
We also pray earnestly for those who do not have what we have,
For those struggling to make ends meet,
For those who are without homes,
For those living on the streets.
For those troubled and fleeing for their lives wherever they are,
Pour out the gifts of your Spirit upon those you send to their aid.
Grant wisdom and humility to those who governed,
Particularly to our country’s confused parliaments,
Those in diplomatic service overseas,
Those in the public service, the courts, police and armed services,
Grant wisdom to the local Councils of our area;
And give all citizens a sense of their calling to seek justice.
Grant healing and justice to those wrongfully used, abused and neglected,
And grant that the guilty may be brought to justice.
Grant us as a community a willingness to repent of our wrong,
And extend mercy to those who truly repent time for genuine amendment of life.
Grant Lord Jesus that we will learn from You to live in peace.
And come quickly to save us and overthrow of the schemes of those who plot evil.
Unite Your people to be servants of justice in every land.
And bless all those with whom we share this corner of the planet,
Be near with comfort to those longing to go home,
And give us wisdom to say a kindly word at the right time.
Thankyou Lord for our neighbours near and far,
Those whom You have brought to cross our path.
Grant us generous hearts that freely give,
Just as You have given love and welcome to us.
So we can be a part of Your blessing to all the peoples of this earth.
We seek Your Kingdom here, Lord Jesus,
May Your Kingdom come and your will be done today and always. AMEN.