30 November 2022 - CITW
30th November 2022 A Candle in the Window Peter Millar
Words for Advent which I wrote some years ago:
It’s easy to despair
as we think of the world this year.
The conflict that mark our age,
the beheadings we can watch,
the myriad hatreds running deep,
the shots on city streets,
the millions dispossessed
as a planet groans in pain.
And rightly we ask,
does the old tale hold against such odds?
That story of Light, of Love, of Hope –
is it still around?
“It’s there in the darkness”
says a tender voice.
For it’s where the stars don’t shine
that Love is present;
and even in the blood and tears
is the One who suffers and heals
not somewhere else,
but in our midst,
here and now.
My simple hand-made chalice:
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
During the many years Dorothy and I lived in South India I was often carrying with me a small simple hand-made chalice which had been given to me by a potter in a village in Tamil Nadu. Beside many sick beds of people who had little in the way of possessions but were rich in their souls I have offered them the light and healing of Christ carried to them through the wine in the cup. Frails hands have held it. And stronger ones. And dying ones.
And often these words of hope, as their fragile, well-worn hands grasped the cup of wine – “The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ given for you, where you are right now. For you as a person who carries the image of God deep within you. You’re held, affirmed and healed in body mind and spirit. Be still and know that God is near”. pm
We have been loved by God from before the beginning.
Julian of Norwich
The days of Advent offer us all a time for healing of the mind and body:
Ever since my time as a young minister in the Church of Scotland, working at that time in a parish in the East End of Glasgow facing many of the markers of social depravation, I have thought of Advent as a time of healing. A caveat however having employed the words ‘social depravation’ these words did not in any way apply to the families and single folk living in Dalmarnock at that time in the early 1970s who may have been experiencing various forms of social depravation but were themselves rich in spirit, courage, faith and vision.
On page after page in the Gospels we read of that relationship between Jesus and sick people. Christ’s healing took place on many levels of mind and body, for he was concerned with a life of wholeness. Throughout his ministry, the healing touch of divine love and forgiveness reached into the deepest places of people’s lives. Even to touch the hem of Christ’s garments was seen as a movement toward healing - to paraphrase some words of the writer Eddie Askew formally of the Leprosy Mission, ‘in Christ was an assurance, however high the waves; a strength, however high the tides’. In Jesus the burdens of the human heart are transfigured.
Every week in Iona Abbey there is a service of prayers for healing and, in a later point in the liturgy, a time when people can both receive and offer the ‘laying on of hands’. Large numbers of prayer requests reach Iona almost every day, and these may be for individuals, families, communities and even countries, and they are vocalised during the service. The requests may be also for global issues and for creation itself now groaning under the weight of destructive forces. In my own understanding – and I know it is understood differently in the other great faiths in our world – I see Christ as ‘the world’s healer’ – enfolding human-kind in his care. A long-time member of the Iona community, Anna Briggs, has expressed this truth in an imaginative way in one of her hymns (a small part which I quote below) which is now sung around the world church. Anna’s insights open our minds to a Christ who permeates every facet of our human condition with healing energies through the work of the Holy Spirit. pm
We bring our selves
confused and closed and tired;
then through your gift of healing grace,
new purpose is inspired.
O Spirit, on us breathe,
with life and strength anew;
find in us love, and hope and trust,
and lift us up to you.
On the next page I include one of my own poems on Christ’s healing.
Healer and Friend:
We come to you,
Healer and Friend;
you who understand us
so much better than we understand ourselves;
to permeate our human condition;
to walk with the bruised people and places
of our time;
to enfold the wounded and the weary;
to offer us an inner springtime.
Your song pierces
even our darkest days,
and you accompany us
when our bodies are racked with pain,
when our minds are in confusion,
when our self-esteem is lost,
when our failures overwhelm,
when our faith falters,
when our relationships break down,
when in our loneliness
we move beyond our tears
and know the agony of abandonment. pm
A note about the new book Befriending Hope:
In a few days I hope to receive the second printing of my latest book Befriending Hope. As many of you know, this is a free book but if you are able to give a donation to the Dr Dorothy Millar Charitable Trust (there is no pressure to do so) that would be great and much appreciated. I hope to be able to send a ‘thank you’ to all those who have already donated to the Trust in this way.
In the second printing of the book there is included on a single piece of paper, a full explanation, on how to donate to Dorothy’s Charitable Trust including the details of how to make a direct bank transfer. I hope this will be helpful. There has been an overwhelming response to this book. I both value and feel humbled by this response as I face the demands of my cancer day by day. Caroline, my assistant, has done so much to bring the new book about.
Thank you again, Peter.
Lord of the burdened, enlarge our vision, calm our hearts, and walk with all who travel the road of our world’s suffering and pain. pm