Let’s Pray for Those Impacted by the Grenfell Fire

My friend, Philippa Robb, has written a helpful summary of how we can pray after the horrific fire just a mile from where we worship in Shepherd’s Bush. As Paul states in Romans 12, may we “weep with those who weep” and seek to “overcome evil with good”.  And in it all, may the name of the Lord be praised! 

Can we remember those who died in the very places they should have been at their safest.

Can we remember those who have lost family, friends and precious possessions. Many of those living in Grenfell House were from refugee or poor backgrounds who already were burdened with life’s big issues and now have the added burden of having to start again – some carrying immense grief in their hearts.

Can we pray for swift resolution for them – they need somewhere to live and they need to be given the option to stay in their community rather than being shifted to the outer reaches of far East London.

Can we remember the emergency services – the fire, police, doctors, nurses, social workers, support workers, religious leaders; that the Lord strengthens them all and provides them with deep wisdom as this situation unfolds.

Can we also pray for the newly-elected MP, for the local authority and for the landlord; that despite the difficult questions that will need to be answered and the heads that will inevitably roll, it is the community that benefits and not the skin that is saved at the community’s cost. That this tragedy is never repeated.

Can we pray for the organisations that have thrown open their doors to beleaguered residents. The churches, the mosques, the community centres and the Westway Sports Centre.

And finally, can we pray for the media and for calm. For calm on the streets; for the peace and the protection of London. We have so much to be thankful for. We have life. Let’s pray, let’s give thanks and let’s live each moment to the full.

Advent – time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas

This is a guest post by Cindy Hylton and was written for New City IPC on the first Sunday of Advent 2013.

Pausing. Remembering. Listening. Paying attention. Acknowledging that the world—and each of us individually and personally—dearly need a Saviour. These are days for us to be aware of our own need for salvation. It is a time to declare our own darkness, our struggle, our sin, our tears, our hunger and thirst. And that of the world we live in.Advent

We are to prepare this way in order to better listen to the promises; to listen to the rich Old Testament texts announcing the hope and freedom we truly long for. When our hearts are open, when our hands are open, when we individually know how we need a Savior; then we are ready to begin Advent.

Our need is shown early in Genesis 3:8-15

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field;
 on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

At Advent we mediate on not only our need, but the hope that is promised to us. The first glimmer of that hope we heard already in the curse to the serpent – that the offspring of the woman would crush his head.

The Saviour has come. The dark days will not last forever.


The God of Worms

This is a guest post by Matt Creacy -friend, husband, father and former worship leader at New City. Matt and Thanye

Over the summer, New City hosted “Kids Club” in White City. It was almost 2 weeks of games, stories, crafts and general madness. One of the last days of the club was particularly draining – it was a crazy, energy sucking, whirlwind day. To make matters worse, the day started with our two-year-old, Thayne, greeting us in the morning by smearing poop all over her room. From there the day only increased in craziness. By the afternoon I had run up and down Shepherds Bush to get supplies for the day’s activities, gotten banana in my hair, and was locked out of our flat for almost an hour; all the while dealing with fussy babies!

Matt at Kids ClubAround 3:00 in the afternoon I finally had a quiet moment to myself. I was sitting outside feeling tired, burned out and very sorry for myself. “Why is everything so hard, and why can’t the kids just BEHAVE?!”

Then I look up and see a small green caterpillar crawling over a plant in our garden. This immediately brought to mind a sermon that I recently listened to by Paul Tripp from Jonah chapter 3. Jonah is pouting outside of Nineveh, because the LORD has relented from destroying the city. God sends a plant to shade Jonah from the sun, then that night God sends a worm to eat the plant. Tripp made the point that GOD SENT that worm. He controls even the tiniest parts of creation. AND He did it to show His love to Jonah. God wanted Jonah’s heart, not his mere obedience.

The same is true today. God controls EVERYTHING. Worms, weather, crying babies and counsel taxes. He is also pursuing our hearts. He doesn’t want us to be robots, or even little Christian minions who do his bidding; He wants children who love Him, as He loves us. When I feel sorry for myself, I am forgetting who God is and what He is like:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

HE is God, He controls circumstances. So when I feel sorry for myself (which is another way of complaining) I am saying that God doesn’t know what He’s doing. “He mustn’t be doing His job right! Otherwise I would be happier.” This is a LIE! God loves me too much to just make give me whatever I want in the moment. In the same way I deny Thayne candy right before bed (much to her disapproval), God allows us to suffer. Because He knows what we need better than we do. We serve the God of worms, and we can trust Him in EVERY circumstance. I needed to hear that, and I pray that He will keep reminding me whenever I forget.

On Westgate and “my kind of people”

This is a guest post by Eileen O’Gorman, a friend, a writer & a fellow St. Louisan.

I heard about the shooting in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall last Saturday and not too long later my Kenyan friends were posting updates about their safety and the safety of those they love. I watched the updates as they came to my home in the U.S.

It was similar to what had transpired just a few days earlier when terror hit Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard. In that case I learned of it via status updates first—with requests for prayer and thanksgiving for the safety of loved ones.

Westgate Shopping MallI visited Nairobi about five years ago and have spent time in a mall like Westgate. As I learned about the attack my mind went there: six stories, clothing retailers, a large grocery store inside. I could picture it. It’s not the same as an American mall, but full of people nonetheless.

When these incidents strike in foreign lands we may consider if it is as bad for “them” as it is for “us” when we face violence and death.

Sociologist call “them” the Other with a capital O. In writing this post I am inspired by another recent article that called attention to the term “Other” as it showed a black man

Photographer: Simon Maina/AFP
Photographer: Simon Maina/AFP

carrying a white child out of Westgate. Depending on where you sit, one of the people in that picture may be Other to you.

The Other, for me, at times is the multimillionaire that lives one block away (I live in a modest apartment with a nice address). Or it could be the indigenous subsidence farmer in Latin America. I am not much like either one.

When these “others” feel pain do I have empathy? We tend to only have empathy for those with whom we can identify in some way.

How deep do we—as Christians—allow “otherness” to creep into our thinking? For instance, does the plight of the church in Syria and surrounding countries call us to prayer? Or do we need to wait for our country of origin to get involved in the conflict before we “tune in”?

The apostle Paul said of the body of Christ “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” 1 Corinthians 12:26.

Speaking to Americans in particular here, a comment from my Iranian friend may help lessen our self-criticism. She once said to me, “America is a huge country. You have a whole world just within your own borders you are trying to understand.” Her grace is appreciated.

Yet Paul also wrote, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Colossians 3:11. In Christ dividing lines disappear.

Back to Westgate. Can we be honest about how we feel (or don’t feel) when tragedy strikes in a foreign land? I believe Christian maturity calls us more and more toward awareness of all kinds of suffering around the world. We are called to see beneath skin color, language, hair—curly or straight. We are called to see that—as my seminary professor would say—God is not just a God of “my kind of people.”

And what do we do as we reach such realizations? Are we suddenly in charge and in a position to solve the problems of this world that we now see? No. We are called to dependence. Dependence on the One who created our world. We are called to cry out to the Lord to save this world that we don’t understand. And to ask for clarity on our role in contributing to the common good—good that most certainly will stretch across national, ethnic, racial and political boundaries.

Since the tragedy at Westgate Kenyans and others are using the hashtag #OneKenya. Lets add a couple of hashtags to the mix: #OneChurch and #OneWorld. And let’s depend on the Lord’s grace to seek this reality.

You can reach Eileen through Twitter @eileen_clare

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