In the Face of Terrorism

POETRY/HYMNS FOR HEALING PROJECT, 2017
Collated by Rex A E Hunt

Recently I wrote to a group of about 25 people inviting some reflection on the matter of terrorism.
And how we could respond, liturgically.

It followed this comment from one of our colleagues…
I think if we are at war with various parties in the Middle East we can sadly expect to have incidents on our own soil that remind us that innocent by-standers sometimes share the costs of what we do elsewhere for whatever noble reasons. 

They are extremists when they hurt us and we hate them for what they do: and rightly so.

But I guess those who hurt us or our kith and kin empowered by what we call a warped understanding of their own faith, possibly think the same way about us - or those who represent us back there in the conflict zones of the ME...

I sometimes wish that someone would write a hymn or two that reflectes the agony of the innocent on both sides - the confusions of our faiths and the way of the Jesus of history that directly addresses the issues of now, but I guess  that may be not possible.

I have received some responses…
RAEH


Hymns - New Words/Old Tunes

I Can Not Tell…”  
Tune: ‘Londonderry’

I lose myself in mists, in mists of wonder.
His faith in God, near takes my breath away.
I know now why, he lived his life for others
To give them hope to live another day.
What love is this, that tempts the risk of dying.
What love is this, that powers cannot see.
It is a love that faces every evil.
A love that costs and sets a people free.

The left-behind, he sees and calls them to him.
The last and least, he hears and understands
He lifts them up and graciously includes them
His gift of love is held in broken hands.
What gift is this, so undeserved yet given.
What gift is this, that comes with so much care
It is a gift, that changes understanding.
A gift, a gift, for people everywhere.

His story reaches us across the ages
But clouds of time, can't hide the truth he brings.
He speaks of hope with passion and conviction:
The world must change, must change for hope to sing.
What hope is this, that heals the shattered spirit.
What hope is this, that conquers doubt and fear.
It is a hope, that reaches through the darkness
A hope, that shines, that shines so bright and clear.

So here I stand, as one who hears the calling:
‘Come follow me – and walk more peaceful ways’.
See in each life, a promise to be treasured.
And every heart, the chance to live it's days.
What peace is this, where violence finds no welcome.
What peace is this, that turns the other cheek.
It is a peace, that turns away from anger
A peace that shows the courage of the meek.  (David Pargeter, November 2016)

Stir Up Compassion
Tune: ‘Was Leben’, 12 10 12 10

Hopeless to help in the face of catastrophe,
helpless while watching this picture unfold,
history repeating with such regularity,
innocents injured while violence takes hold.

Where is the love when our cities are targeted,
common humanity shattered or lost?
How can we love when such hatred is harvested,
offering grace while not counting the cost?

God bring compassion to heal our communities,
love reaching deep to the centre of loss,
meeting us deep in our horror and fearfulness,
vulnerable saviour of comfort and cross.  (© Andrew Pratt 4/6/2017)

Alternate Last Verse:
Stir up compassion to heal our communities,
love reaching deep to the centre of loss,
meeting each neighbour in horror and fearfulness,
draw us together through comfort and cross.  (© Andrew Pratt 5/6/2017)

Give Me Your Hand…
Tune: ‘Stewardship’

Hopeless to help in this violence, this crisis,
here in the focus of bloodshed and fear,
common humanity binds us together,
love at the centre, not hatred's veneer.

Jewish and Christian and Muslim together,
all the world’s people, we each have a place.
Love is our purpose when those filled with hatred
break down relationships, nullify grace.

Give me your hand, then let peace grow between us,
let us rebuild what distrust might destroy.
Now in this moment we'll make a commitment,
love is the weapon we'll use and deploy.  (© Andrew Pratt 20/1/2015 & 18/1/2015)

All Roads
Tune: ‘Crusader’s Hymn’. Traditional Hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus

Silent, our wondrous earth
spins through the universe
clear, bright, and blue from a million miles.
Yet on its jagged face,
scarred by the human race,
there walks a lonely, hungry child.

Freedom, we all desire,
to wealth, we all aspire,
while she bears sorrows we’ll never know.
Might we not see our lives
as viewed through troubled eyes
and for her sake, our mercy show?

Faced with our privilege,
honoring our heritage
might ours be duty with love imbued.
Truth must we ever seek;
with wisdom ever speak;
the dignity of all pursue.

Some roads are walked with ease;
some make their pilgrims bleed;
all lead away from the world we’ve known.
Seeking another way
might we create the day
where all roads are with beauty sown?  (© 2015 gretta vosper)

May We Cast the Vision
Tune: ‘King’s Weston’. Traditional Hymn: At the Name of Jesus, Every Knee Shall Bow

Are we not still dreaming
of a world of peace,
where all live in freedom
and all hatred’s ceased?
Are we not still hoping
for a fair new day,
one for which all suffering
long before did fade?

Have we not the knowledge
that can feed each child,
shelter ev’ry family,
nations reconcile?
Have we not the wisdom
to look back and see
all that’s come between us
throughout history?

Can we not be faithful
to the call of love;
all it builds between us,
is that not enough?
Can we not find reasons
to reach out and share –
all we own, together –
all because we care?

On this day, we’re dreaming
of a world made bright,
freed from all its sorrows,
living into light.
May we feel the courage
stirring deep within.
May we cast the vision
and this work begin.  (© 2017 gretta vosper)

Communion in a Time of Dread
Tune: ‘Sursum Corda’, 10.10.10.10

One truck delivers us our wine and bread
Another swerves and leaves our children dead
One driver sings a hymn of love and life
Another chants a call to holy strife

One phone is used to set a bomb alight
Another used to comfort those in fright
And yet both users share a common Source
The same antenna gives their signals force

We seek communion in a time of dread
Yearn for a table that for all is spread
Our broken hearts are blind to creed and caste
But burn for love to reconcile at last.  (Jim Burklo, 6/5/2017)

Morning Has Broken
Tune: ‘Bunessan’, 55 54D

Morning has broken, torn by explosives,
Leaving a trail of death in the sky.
Morning has broken, broken in pieces,
Filling our hearts with fragments of ‘why?’

Why does the tree of terror keep growing,
Spreading its poison deep in young brains?
Why does the tree of evil keep thriving,
Spreading its fear deep down in our veins?

Why do we Christians feel so deserted,
Left by our God in helpless dismay?
Where is the Christ who loves even ISIS?
How can we rise to find a new way?

Come Mother Morning, come with compassion,
Guiding our souls down pathways of love,
Love that now even our enemies feel,
Sensing God’s gift of peace from above.  (Norman Habel)

When Terror Rips Our Life Apart” (A Forgiveness Hymn)
Tune: ‘Breslau’, 88 88

When terror rips our life apart,
When we lie shattered and confused,
In touching our oppressors hearts
We find how they were once abused.

Abuse takes many, many forms,
Abuse of body and of mind;
The hurts that form a cross-shaped now
Or ones which history has defined.

We each have hidden in our hearts
Past warfare of our kith and kin
Destroying others in Christ’s name,
Defacing God who dwells within.

Before condemning dark desires
To kill or maim both me and you
Recall Christ pleading from the Cross
“They really don’t know what they do”.*

Forgiveness is the Spirit’s way
To heal the grief of broken hearts,
It binds the fragments into one,
A whole restored from shattered parts.  (William Livingstone Wallace)
   * Luke 23:34


Lament

A Lament for the Ongoing Destruction of Innocence” (a)
John Cranmer (6 June 2017)

(No. 1)

Intimate god — deepness of soul
What of these powerless ones
What of these innocent ones
Called to live timelessly
Within this everlasting grip of terror 

These crippled ones
With their roots deep in this nonplace
Contested by empires for millenia
Empires — life-deforming life-controlling
Empires where the names and uniforms change
As the oppression grows in depth and heaviness

Perhaps though
With a deep irony of contradiction
It has been the imposition of empire
That has given refuge-space for these
Space to grow like weeds in the cracks
Within their tightly constrained survival-places
Finding a semblance of holding to life
Born into a world that knows how to hate
A world honouring sweet embittered vendetta
Throughout the generations
Relying on the minions of the faraway lords
To maintain a semblance of festering order
But never a heart-reconciliation

But such possibilities of imperial balance
Are fragile and cannot hold the edges
Days of chaos and anarchy are foretold
And come to be like the collapsing house of cards
That has been denied foundation
Except to hate and thus to survive
These powerless lose their fiction of hope
Naked in the presense of seething oppression
In their Hell's Cockpit of disfunctional humanity

And you the god
In whom these powerless pawns of history
Still place their trust
Who are you? — where are you?
Where is your comfort for their age-long affliction?

Where are you god of many names
With your stories of the naked one become divine?

Stories iconed in the crucified christ
In the flagellation for the murdered Immam (b)
In the haunting faces and broken bodies
Of those dead before their natural time
Living in the everpresent nightmares
Of those still alive
Until they too arrive at their final grieving
Their last memories of a world
So at odds with itself

(No. 2)

Powerless ones
Innocent ones
Called to live timelessly
Within this everlasting grip of terror 

Crippled ones
With your roots deep in this nonplace
Contested by empires for millenia
Empires — life-deforming life-controlling
Empires where the names and uniforms change
As the oppression grows in depth and heaviness

Perhaps though
With a deep irony of contradiction
It has been the imposition of empire
That has given you refuge-space
Space to grow like weeds in the cracks
Within your tightly constrained survival-places
Finding a semblance of holding to life
Born into a world that knows how to hate
A world honouring sweet embittered vendetta
Throughout your generations
Relying on the minions of the faraway lords
To maintain a semblance of festering order
But never a heart-reconciliation

But such possibilities of imperial balance
Are fragile and cannot hold the edges
Days of chaos and anarchy are foretold for you
And come like the collapsing house of cards
That has been denied foundation
Except to hate and thus to survive
Powerless — you lose your fiction of hope
Naked in the presence of seething oppression
In your Hell's Cockpit of disfunctional humanity

And where is the rumour of god
For such powerless pawns of history
You who still place trust in such as this?

Where for you is the god of many names
As you tell your stories of the naked one
Become divine?

Your stories iconed in the crucified christ
In your flagellation for the murdered Immam (b)
In the haunting faces and broken bodies
Of those dead before their natural time
Living in the everpresent nightmares
Of those still alive
Until they arrive at their final grieving
Their last memories of a world
So at odds with itself

(a)
Sadly these words and emotions could be said of many many
places and people around our fragile planet.
Iraq — Syria — Afghanistan — Congo — Sudan — Myanmar
These and many more

(b)
Look for this story at the heart and origins of Shia Islam


Reflection on Grenfell Tower
Through a glass darkly the smoke is obscuring
flames that are burning – hell come upon earth;
hell made by hands with a human intention –
housing? entrapment? a prison of death?

People of all faiths cry out in their anguish,
horror and anger inflamed by their grief;
others reach out through the fierce conflagration,
risking their lives just to offer relief.

This is salvation in practical action,
not some theology – heartless – obscure;
hands reaching out like the strong hands of Jesus,
offering love, but can hope be secure?
© Andrew Pratt 15/6/2017


Prayers

(i) For Times of Disaster and Tragedy

This has been a week of horror and of joy
of indescribable tragedy
and acts of unselfishness and courage.

Around the world, here in [Aotearoa New Zealand], but today especially
we think of [name place], lives have been lost.

We have been reminded of our vulnerability,
our humanity as nations and individuals.

We are stunned by the destruction of lives and buildings
landmarks and communities.

We are made aware of grievances—
religious and cultural, economic and political—
for which peaceful solutions have not been sought
and violence has been used as if it’s a solution.

We give thanks for the bravery and generosity of ordinary people:
—rescue crews, police, fire fighters, medics, social workers
—people who have donated blood and food and blankets
—people pulling together to support each other in grief and generosity.

In our nation, our communities and homes
we remember that conflict resolution and peaceful solutions
rely on our being mindful
of others’ and our own humanity.

May we treat others as we would be treated
were we in their shoes.
May we be the change, the peace,
the justice that we seek.  (Bronwyn White) 

(ii) Way of Justice

In a week that has brought tragedy and loss
when to hear or read the news reminds us, again and again,
of our vulnerable humanity
of the violence, so close beneath the skin in this beautiful land,
we are aware that there is still
bullying and homophobia in our schools
families torn by violence we call ‘domestic’
prejudice against those we don’t understand.

In this year
of spectacular acts of terrorism and revenge
and unrecorded, smaller daily acts of discrimination and abuse
thoughtless words and actions
that cause pain to those we assume are invulnerable—

We give thanks that there are also stories of courage and love
if we look for them:
leaders and individuals in every sphere
who stand up for honesty, fairness and justice;
people in business and politics, workplaces, schools, communities
who demand and model ethical behaviour
who work by co-operation not conflict,
who speak peace to power.

In this city where we work and live
there are daily acts of bravery, unselfishness and kindness
which give us hope
reminding us that the Kingdom of Heaven is here
In our hearts and actions.
We give thanks that, in this special place
In each other’s company,
the way of justice is one we walk together.  (Bronwyn White)

(iii) Extract from Easter Hīkoi
Litany for Palm/Passion Sunday
[Note: “Hosanna” is used in its original meaning from Hebrew and Aramaic, of "help" or "save, I pray" and "save, rescue, saviour" respectively.]

Jesus wept.
We weep, too…
for the destruction of our temples
for the stones that cry out when we are silent.

We weep for the exploitation, trade, abuse and rape
of the innocent and powerless:
children
women
men
for the rapists, abusers, the traders and exploiters
for those who cannot weep
who cannot empathise or feel another’s pain.

For victims and perpetrators
we cry for justice and work for peace.

We weep for those who have lost hope
for those nearing journey’s end with no sense of resurrection
whose losses are too great for stiff upper lips and backbones.
For what we must let go of
we weep.

Blessed are you who rebuild what was broken
who replant what was torn up
who heal our spirits and our earth.
     Hosanna: mercy on us
     Blessed are we who come in peace.

We hear the stones cry out for the destruction of our temples
for knowing what’s needed and still not giving peace a chance.

For trying to quiet those who shout for justice
In languages or accents foreign to us
for closing our ears to those whose causes we don’t understand.

For the ravaged beauty of the earth and of her peoples
we hear the stones cry out.
     Hosanna: mercy on us
     Blessed are we who come in peace.  (Bronwyn White)


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