• Rossendale Circuit

From the Garden Bench - Shalom

Words by David Hollows

In these very different days, what are the biggest differences you have noticed?

Certainly from my garden bench the quietness of the skies, now devoid of aeroplanes, has certainly been a big difference. Although the void has now been filled with blackbird song, a great improvement.

Another big difference is the amount of traffic on the roads. The main road which goes past my house to the moor is usually very quiet. At the weekend, the sounds are normally those of the horses passing by and sheep in the fields. However, for the past 3 weeks, the road to the Cotton Road and then to the moor leading over to Rawtenstall has become a motorway of human traffic. The relative quietness is broken by the sound of conversations, the bark of dogs and children’s chatter. A 90 year old neighbour has suggested that there must be a place in Rochdale where you can hire or loan a dog because we have never seen so many dogs on our road with owners we have never seen before. Such is life.

Photo by Jason Leung via Unsplash

A thought for you to ponder; Silence is external, peace is internal.

During this Easter season – of which there are 2; the European Church celebrated on April 12th and the Orthodox eastern Church celebrated on April 19th – we have the story of the appearance of Jesus to the disciples locked away in fear and He greets them with the word, Shalom (Peace to you) (John chapter 20 verses 19 – 22)

For the disciples their lack of peace was intensified by the sudden appearance of the risen Jesus but the word He chooses to greet them is not by mistake. Jesus fully understands their current human condition and is intent to resolve this for His friends.

As friends of Jesus we are to have peace as part of our Christian character. For Paul, peace is the third fruit of the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit (Galatians chapter 5 verse 22).

This gift enables us to dispel fear, cast away all cares and anxieties, have an inner calmness and an assurance of deep peace which we can demonstrate with others.

It is not by mistake that in the service of Holy Communion we share the Peace with each other, the same Peace which God gives to us through His Holy Spirit. Jesus thought it very important to give this gift to His disciples; Peace I leave with you. My own peace I now give and bequeath to you. ( John chapter 14 verse 27)

But how do we apply this particular type of peace in our own lives on a daily basis yet alone to others in these very different days? I am wired up to worry. It is my nature to be anxious and afraid. Possibly, but as children of a peace-giving God, are we not called to live lives of peace and pass this to others?

Photo by Aleksandr Ledogorov via Unsplash

The fruit of peace will grow in us as we spend more and more time with God in prayer and His Word and time is certainly a commodity of which we have plenty at this time.

Some Christians use lit candles as an external demonstration of the internal blessing of peace from God. To sit and watch the flickering flame is often a great support for mental well-being and the flame reminds us of the presence of God. The silence also gives us the opportunity to pray for others.

You may find the following hymn useful to sing or repeat; Make me a channel of your peace (Hymns and Psalms 776)

You may find the following two prayers useful;

We light this candle for peace, Lord. May its light scatter the darkness; may its flame be a symbol of hope; may its burning be a sign of faith joining with many other lights for peace. We light this candle for peace. May our lives be an expression of peacemaking; may we seek to be lights in a dark world, pointing to you, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and following you in the way of peace. Let this candle burn, as a sign for peace, offered to you.

- John Johansen-Berg

Photo by Prateek Gautam via Unsplash

Go, and know that the Lord goes with you; let Him lead you each day into the quiet place of your heart, where He will speak with you; know that he loves you and watches over you, that He listens to you in gentle understanding, that He is with you always, wherever you are and however you may feel: and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you forever. Amen.

- Rowland Croucher

May the peace of God which passes all understanding be yours now and always. Amen

Signing off; your local Lay-worker, David Hollows

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