What have they done to the “Little Town”?
Imprisoned it in a concrete wall
Bethlehem – once a holy city
Trapped inside a ghetto wall.
Here where angels sang of peace
Where love and hope were born anew
Once surrounded by a heavenly host
Now surrounded by a concrete view.
Yet people crushed and hidden away
Still celebrate on Christmas Eve
Lighting candles for the child –
They still remember – still believe.
So light a candle this Holy Night
For Bethlehem and Beit Sahour
And for all the people caught inside
That cold and grey prison wall
Longing for a world of peace
Where all are treated equally
Where all can recognise their worth
Where all can live with dignity –
Where all can join hands with neighbours
Whether Muslim, Christian or Jew
And find a way to live together
Making Holy dreams
Making Holy dreams come true.
O God, from the heart of Bethlehem
From the heart of occupied land
You have sent a message
To shake the world
Thank you for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem
That gives so many clues as to your character
In the birth of this child we discover a spirituality
Of hope, peace, justice
Thank you that a child born in simplicity
Amongst a poor community
Speaks of the values of the way of peace
Thank you that you are a God of the poor
Those for whom there is no room
And that’s why this is a way of life and a theology
That gives such hope
Because no one is forgotten
May we hear the call
And live out the lifestyle
That helps to build a community
That reflects this alternative way
Of a loving God
A community of justice
That asserts simplicity
And the worth of every human being
Thank you that you are a humble, generous God
Who stopped to show us the way of love
Garth’s new album – Easter Revolution –
will be available before Christmas
watch this space for details
O God, just and loving,
May we find a way to speak up
for those who are being brutalised,
ignored or forgotten.
May we be those who speak up for refugees,
May we be those who speak up for the oppressed in Palestine
May we bring support where we can and may we never be silent.
Love is never silent and justice is never silent –
May we find ways to speak up
Especially when our sisters and brothers are asking for our solidarity –
with our voices telling the story.
May we echo the Palestinian Christian “Cry for hope”
And stand against injustice and apartheid –
And stand against the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
May we show the love and justice of Jesus
And find ways for our voices to tell the story.
And may the God who dances in creation
Who embraces us with human love
Who shakes our lives like thunder
Bless us and drive us out with power
To fill the world with her justice.
The final paragraph is a blessing from St Hilda’s Community
Song for Easter
Jesus of the Scars
If we have never sought, we seek you now;
Your eyes burn through the dark our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-marks on your brow,
We must have you, O Jesus of the scars.
The heavens frighten us, they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by your scars we know your grace
O Jesus of the scars we seek you now
O Jesus of the scars we seek you now
We must have sight of the thorn-marks on your brow
We must have you, O Jesus of the scars
The other gods were strong but you were weak;
They rode, but you did stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds but you alone.
music by Garth Hewitt
poem by Edward Shillito, written at the end of the First World War
Prayer for Easter
O God, whether in India, Greece or Bethlehem
Or anywhere else in our global village
Lead us through the wilderness of worry, despair,
Illness, sorrow and suffering
And lead our wounded world to the resurrection of hope.
May we all learn from this world wide virus
That we are all in this together.
So no more violence and war,
No more greed and selfishness –
It is time to support one another
And genuinely love our neighbour as ourself.