Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Beauty and Hope

‘He makes all things beautiful in its time’ Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

‘The whole He hath made beautiful in its season’ (Youngs Literal Translation)

All things in harmony with the whole work of God. A verse bursting with hope.

I wonder if we can link this verse to Isaiah 61:3 – ‘to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair’, where perhaps the ashes are hopes that have turned to dust. People are full of hopes and dreams, some of which they see fulfilled and some they see crumble in their hands like dust. I wonder whether when we consider our purpose for today we could add the dimension of bringing hope back to people. Can we speak words of life to create hope again? To inform them that God always has good plans for them, that his word is true and everything God does is forever, nothing added, nothing taken away.

The bible is full of scriptures that encourage us to look up, to hope, to trust, to know that help is on the way, to know that all will be well. Where perhaps in the past the church has been concerned too much with judgement day and the consequences of sin we could shift our emphasis to redemption and hope for today.

I wonder if we can ask God to shift the times and seasons to bring beauty today where there are ashes, to bring hope where there is despair. Yesterday we were praying for two young women, one with breast cancer, one with cervical cancer, (the two cancers that affect woman-ness, femininity, beauty, identity). Cancer brings with it a devastation of hopes, from the very moment it is diagnosed the hope to avoid it is in ashes whilst other hopes hang in the balance; the hope to have more children, the hope to avoid medical interventions, the hope to avoid hair loss, the hope to avoid sickness, the hope to live. One of the biggest hopes we have – to be healthy and the main thought throughout pregnancy – the hope for a healthy baby. So we prayed for these two women, we prayed for beauty today instead of the ashes that came with the diagnosis and medical intervention. We prayed for today because that is what we have - we hope today for beauty today. We asked God to call the time for beauty ‘today’ not in the distant future.

This is not new information; it is just a reminder that we are the hope carriers.

Here’s a good prayer. It was delivered by Mother Theresa when she addressed the United Nations in 1985 (according to Wikipedia)

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.

That where there is hatred I may bring love,

That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,

That where there is discord, I may bring harmony,

That where there is error I may bring truth,

That where there is doubt I may bring faith,

That where there is despair I may bring hope,

That where there are shadows I may bring light,

That where there is sadness I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted,

To understand than to be understood,

To love than to be loved.

For it is by forgetting self that one finds.

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven,

it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

Amen.

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