Keith Burrell, Reader at Trinity Church, Lyon reflects on this week’s lectionary Epistle, I Timothy 2.1-7, which seems only too relevant to current concrns.
The memorial at Ground Zero
‘Never’ I’m tempted to say, ‘Never has Paul’s instruction (‘pray for kings and all those in authority‘, 1 Timothy 2.2) been more relevant and important.’ A glance at the news and we see refugees spending days on board NGO rescue ships in the Mediterranean because governments cannot decide where the ships might be allowed to dock; we hear bitter arguments in the UK and further afield over BREXIT; some leaders exchange insults and few seem to engage in reasonable discussions to find real solutions. The former Scottish MP Tam Dalyell pointed out that political discussion in the 1980’s became increasing conflictual. Since then the situation seems only to have got worse. It reminds me of the line in Pete Seeger’s song which runs: ‘When will they ever learn?’
On the other hand, 18 years ago on 9/11 when the first plane struck one of the Twin Towers, ordinary people immediately set to work together to bring help to the victims. A recent visit to the Ground Zero memorial made that abundantly clear: there, along with the names of the other victims, are those of the First Responders listed by team: the men and women who gave their lives to help others. White roses mark the birthday of each victim on the appropriate day and are a reminder that behind each of these names is a person, an individual person, precious in God’s sight. But I also see in those white roses a sign of hope.
A sign of hope which will only be realised if we take Paul’s instruction seriously and pray regularly and earnestly for the leaders of the world’s governments. There are so many desperate situations all over the world, many but not all due to war, with so many innocent people caught up in them through no fault of their own. But so easily our prayers for them can fade like the television news headlines, replaced by other concerns.
Let us come before the Lord whole-heartedly, in humility and faith. As Archbishop Justin Welby put it, let us ‘batter the gates of heaven in prayer’ regularly and perseveringly… Let us batter the gates of heaven in prayer for kings and all those in authority, that all people may live peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness.