It is always good to give thanks as well as intercede for others in our prayer. So we give thanks and celebrate that 'The Welcome Inn' Café (Bournemouth MC at Victoria Park) has been announced as café of the year in a competition run by a local newspaper. Congratulations to the manager Amy, Deacon Suzie and all the team who have worked so long and hard in bringing this idea and space into fruition.
And also to give thanks for the hospitality that is so generously offered within the churches around the circuit, through dedicated café spaces, after services or for one-off coffee mornings and so much more. We worship a generous and abundant God, and it is good to reflect that characteristic in our interactions with the communities around us.
But we are also aware of the many issues, struggles and losses that so many are facing – the on going cost of living crisis that is having such a detrimental affect for so many people in all places, the conflicts and upheavals as people strive to find safe places to be. In particular we bring to mind the people who have been affected by natural and climatic disasters: the earthquake in Morocco and floods in Libya that are still currently in the news. We pray for people to know compassion at this time, strength and courage to do what is needed and experience an outpouring of peace and desire to help all people unconditionally. Amen.
We live in a world in which the balance between blessings and challenges can be very wobbly. Nevertheless, we are called to praise and give thanks to God as much as we ask for God's intervention in our day to day lives. It is not always easy to do, to take the time to intentionally praise and give thanks to God when there is so much that we want to demand from God. Yet praising and offering thanks allows us to step back from the things that are weighing us down, even if it is just for a moment. It allows us that space to breathe and as we know in Hebrew, the word for breath and spirit is the same.
There is a world of need all around us, but there are also so many things to be thankful for. In our prayers we do not have to make a choice between them, we can encompass them both regardless of our current situations. We can hold them in 'tension'.
And when we cannot find the words or the will to pray – we can just breathe and be – God will find us.