Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake
we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.
–Concluding Prayer for Compline, from The Book of Common Prayer
“When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was…. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up…” (Mark 4:35-38, NRSV)
Oh dear God, how often have we overlooked this bit of the Gospel? Slid right past it, to the part where Jesus banishes the storm and rebukes our fears? But what if… what if… “they woke him up” is core to the message? What if Jesus slept, and the story was captured for all time, to remind us that as disciples, it’s up to us to wake those who are sleeping
…to arouse the seemingly oblivious to the storms around us
…to call upon the powers that can still the waves
…to awaken the voices that can banish fear
What if it’s up to us to wake the sleepers so that they can be as Christ to us? What if it’s up to us to be awakened?
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte this week blustered that anyone who refuses Covid-19 vaccination will be sent to jail. Australia is imposing stringent restrictions to deal with a fast-growing Covid-19 outbreak in Sidney. In South Africa, where many people don’t have internet access and fewer than 4% are yet vaccinated, church leaders have been enlisted to use their mobile phones to sign up people for vaccinations. Russia is holding weekly lotteries, where those who get vaccinated have a chance to win one of five cars. Rohingya artists have painted murals throughout the Bangladesh refugee camps that house over 700,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar, teaching about the vaccines and encouraging people to get the shots – even though none are yet available there.
So many different ways, God, so many different people, all trying to rouse the world to still the storm of this pandemic. Dear God, wake the sleepers before it is too late!
In Saskatchewan, Canada, 751 bodies were found by the Indigenous Cowessess community in unmarked graves near a former Catholic residential school for indigenous children, adding to the shockwaves of horror started by last month’s discovery of the remains of 215 children near another indigenous residential school in British Columbia.
In Las Vegas, U.S., two National Rifle Association leaders were tricked into giving speeches to the 2021 graduating class of James Madison Academy, a school that doesn’t exist. Only after the speeches were given did they find out that the 3044 empty socially-distanced chairs in the audience represented the high school seniors in the U.S. who would never graduate because they had been killed by gun violence. The stunt was organized by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, whose son Joaquin “Guac” was killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Ethiopia’s military on Thursday admitted responsibility for a deadly airstrike on a busy marketplace in the country’s Tigray region. Health workers said the attack killed at least 64 people, including children, but the military insisted only combatants were targeted.
Nearly 100 people remain missing after a 12-story, 136-unit condo building in Miami Beach, Florida, U.S., collapsed during the night; cause of the collapse is so far unknown.
Hear, O God, the cries of the missing and the dead, the mourners, the lost opportunities, and those whose lives are forever changed by helping in recovery efforts. Give new life to their stories, and new commitments to change the laws and habits, fears and resentments that endanger lives all around us.
A United Nations panel is calling for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to be added to the list of World Heritage Sites that are endangered. The Reef has suffered three major coral bleaching events in the past 5 years, caused by severe marine heatwaves. Also this week, researchers warned that by 2040, 40% of cotton-producing regions in the world (such as India, the U.S., Brazil and China) are likely to see their growing seasons shortened by rising heat, while drought could hit half the crop. The report, from international nonprofit Forum for the Future, noted that growers are rapidly becoming aware of rising climate risks, but few companies that rely on cotton for their products – and even fewer consumers- have heard much about them. In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, increasing drought and climate change have not only cut wheat and corn harvests by 40% in the last decade, but have resulted in closure of 90% of the watermills that produced flour from those crops. Experts are now hoping to adapt many of those mills for electricity generation, thereby also restoring the jobs lost when the mills closed. Ghana aimed to plant at least 5 million trees in a single day last week, to help regrow the country’s lost forests and curb the impacts of climate change.
Prod us, O God, into wakefulness to the pains of our planet. Arouse all who touch, or use, or benefit from its fruitfulness. Arouse us all, that we in turn may arouse those who have the authority to stem the tide of encroaching disasters and turn the changes to come, to the good of all peoples.
At least $250 million in U.N. humanitarian aid intended for refugees and poor communities in Lebanon has been lost to banks selling the local currency at highly unfavourable rates, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has found. The staggering losses have hit Syrian and Palestinian refugees and poor Lebanese especially hard, cutting their emergency monthly payout from the World Food Program by 75%, leaving many unable to buy enough food to survive.
Brazil’s environment minister Ricardo Salles has resigned under pressure of a criminal investigation into his involvement in both covering up $25 million worth of illegal logging in the Amazon, and exporting illegal timber to the U.S. and Europe.
Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy paper ceased publication this week, strengthening China’s grip on the territory. The 26-year-old Apple Daily closed down after the Beijing government accused it of violating a new national anti-dissent law, froze the company’s assets, and arrested the paper’s founder and several senior staff members. For its final edition, it printed 1 million copies, 10 times its usual press run, with many vendors being sold out by mid-morning.
We give thanks for the voices that proclaim Justice, that speak the truths we need to hear.
Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping;
that we may awake the power of Christ,
that we may live into the power of Christ,
that we may still the storms
and banish our fears
and love…and love…and love as Christ loves us.