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February 12

Lamentations 3, 31 – 39

Something to read

For the Lord will not
reject for ever.
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone.

When all the prisoners of the land
are crushed under foot,
when human rights are perverted
in the presence of the Most High,
when one’s case is subverted
— does the Lord not see it?

Who can command and have it done,
if the Lord has not ordained it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Why should any who draw breath complain
about the punishment of their sins?

Something to think about

A sense of place, a profound love of a particular landscape is a deep human instinct, even when that landscape does not appeal to everyone.

Many find the remote wilderness places of Scotland, the bare hills and strange rock formations alien and challenging. To me, they are beautiful beyond compare.

In his moving and beautiful book, Palestinian Walks, Raja Shehadeh describes a territory that has often been found bleak, barren and intimidating to visitors with the eyes of love and a different way of seeing.

It is a remembering of a place that is already disappearing through environmental degradation and political occupation, dispossession and disempowerment.

In a culture which is terrified of failure, loss and grief, finding the appropriate spaces for lamentation is not easy, and they squeeze their way into very peculiar cracks sometimes.

But these spaces are crucial, for indeed, sometimes we find ourselves standing beside a cross. We need ways of remembering and naming, in sorrow and anger, what we have loved, even as it is under threat.

To release these is also to release our power for repentance and change. Liturgy has always been a way of doing this, what Walter Brueggemann has called ‘liturgical resistance.’ 

I’m going to miss the birds, singing all their songs
I’m going to miss the wind, been kissing me so long

… sing Anthony and the Johnstons, in a lament from popular culture. It's a kind of liturgy. Time is running out fast. Now is time for anger and sorrow that liberates us for action and for the love that cherishes, that takes care.

Something to do

Think of a landscape that is particularly dear to you and be grateful for it. Then walk for fifteen minutes from your home. On the way back, make a note of anything you see in your environment that you think needs a bit of cherishing. Then find a way to do that with other people.

Something to pray

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you

Today’s contributor is Kathy Galloway, Christian Aid’s Head of Team in Scotland, a practical theologian, activist and writer, and member, and former leader, of the Iona Community

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