For light in dark times

Loving God, when times are hard
and it feels like everything around us
is falling into darkness and chaos,
gently lift our faces back towards the light of Jesus Christ.

Let your Holy Spirit shine
into every part of us that needs healing.
Guide our hearts that we may see your dazzling beauty and 
love overflowing into every forgotten corner of the world.

Remind us that when we are in the shadows, you are with us, 
holding our hands and promising to never let us go.
Assure us that even when we feel forgotten, 

unheard or overlooked, that we are never too hidden away 
for your light to find us and lead us home.

Help us to know that whenever we feel overwhelmed, 
or struggle to emerge from the depths of grief and pain, 
you are the light of the world, who reaches us always.

Loving God, may your presence among us be an eternal flame, 
a flame that dwells deep within us and warms our souls, 
that strengthens us with your love, and lights our path 
with the assurance of the everlasting hope and comfort 
we are given in our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Prayer written by The Revd Cara Smart, Curate at St Pauls, Wokingham; featured in Pathways Magazine, Oxford Diocese,Winter 2022 edition.

You might be thinking that beginning a blog post or a letter with a prayer is an unusual thing, but really it isn’t. Quite a few of Paul’s letters in the New Testament begin with a prayer of hope or thanksgiving. They set the tone for what is to come, preparing the reader to approach what is written from a spiritual perspective which connects the head and the heart so that what is then written below  speaks more deeply to the readers own experiences and reality. And so, I share with you this prayer, written for us by Cara, a priest from Wokingham, which captures the hope and comfort many desire in dark times.

Between rising energy prices, a fall in real-term income, continued concern over health issues and  the impact of global crises which seems to filter down to us, it is easy to see darkness growing and hope receding.  Yet, as a Christian, I know, that it only takes the smallest amount of light, to make darkness flee.  Hope and comfort  comes in many different ways, and it has been a privilege to witness the many selfless ways you all come together and support each other in times of need. But it is also good to celebrate and shout out our praises to the many organisations that go above and beyond to make our lives better.

So I am dedicating this letter to hope … rays of hope … that can make a huge difference in the lives of many in our village.

Here are just three of them, I’m sure you can think of many more:

Like ‘The Friday Club’ – a monthly club run by many amazing volunteers from across the village, done in conjunction with St Andrew’s, which sees over 50 senior villagers each time.  Bringing laughter, joy, good food and activities to those who find getting out and about as they used to harder in these days.

The Good Neighbour Scheme – who are a constant source of practical help to those who need a lift, help picking up a prescription or filling out a form.  The many volunteers who make this scheme happen are a life line to those stuck in their homes.  They make a dull day just that little bit brighter.

And finally, the Stoke Poges Hastings Charity* and the Stoke Poges United Charity*.  There is nothing more draining both mentally and financially than when we need a little bit of help in  tough times.  These two charities give out grants for villagers, for example, who have found this Winter’s energy bills too much, or need help buying clothes for their children or buying much needed furniture, but can’t because money is tight. Their compassion and discretion is assured so that  those who seek help know it won’t be gossiped about or broadcast.  They come and bring relief from the stresses which financial brings as much as they can. 

So, when times are hard, and your life grows dim, pray and know that you are not alone.  There are so many wonderful people all around you, wanting to bring you hope, are inspired by it, in fact and long to share their time, talent and enthusiasm to bring this community comfort and hope.

God bless

Revd Natasha x

*You can find more information and download application forms here for the Stoke Poges Hastings Charity and Stoke Poges United Charity.