Gethsemane: Sitting in Sorrow

Today is Good Friday.
A bittersweet day.

A day of sadness and sorrow.
But also a day of remembrance, realignment, and hope. Because we know what is coming next. Sunday!

However, today, I urge you not to push past the sadness into Sunday.
Rather linger here a little while longer.
Sit in the story of Jesus. Sit with him as he endures torture and humiliation.
Sit with him as he says,
“Father, the hour has come” John 17:1
Sit with him on this day, the day he dies. The day he dies for each and every one of us.

To help you do this, ponder over this poignant poem.
Let it transport you to a garden at nightfall.
Where you’ll find a man on bended knees.
To a night that changes history.

Brittle leaves and dappled evening light
in Gethsemane
Olives underfoot
Soon to be gathered and crushed to
golden oil

Crickets trill in the hush of nightfall as
he walks alone,
Feet dusty but fragrant with the
perfume of kings.

Tomorrow these same feet will
stumble bloodied through the streets,
then be bound and nailed to a tree.

But tonight they shuffle through the
fallen leaves and sun bleached grasses of
a garden
Free to run or fight;
He comes to pray at the crossroads of

Kneeling, deathly sorrow weighs on
his limbs and echoes in his words;
“Father… may this cup be taken from
me”? This bitter cup the heavy cost of
“But not my will but yours be done” he
As his feet point towards the cross
To be pierced, crushed and poured
out for love.
Poem by the lovely Kelsey Johnston

Rhythms of Prayer – Justice

‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ Amos 5:24

We long to see justice roll, yet upon hearing of the 8-year old boy enslaved on a fishing boat, the prisoner illegally detained, the child held in prostitution, we feel completely helpless. I am no lawyer, investigator, social worker. Maybe not, but the work of justice begins with you and I – to seek justice means to first seek the God of justice.

The great mystery of God is that he calls us into what he is doing. He could proclaim the gospel to the entire world in a breath, feed a nation with five loaves and two fish, calm any storm with a word, release captives by his angels. Yet he invites us to join him – a global movement seeking justice, moved to stand with the prisoner, with the child… moved to pray.

What does this look like? How do we pray that justice would roll on like a river?

Water looks different depending on where it is in a river’s watercourse – the brief, powerful, tumbling flow of a waterfall; the narrow, steady meander around a bend in a valley; some times a wide, slow current. There will be times of brief and powerful intercession and times of steady, rhythmic and prayerful petition – the roar of thousands in a stadium, the whisper of a boy in his bed.

At International Justice Mission (IJM), daily rhythms of prayer are written into each day, every staff member spending one hour of their contracted daily time in prayer – half an hour in stillness and silence and half an hour corporately. Aware of our human limitations, before each lawyer steps into court, investigator goes undercover, social worker begins a session, or speaker stands on a stage, we pray, ‘God, let justice roll.‘ Sometimes we see a miraculous provision, a rescue of scale beyond belief, other times months are spent relentlessly praying for breakthrough in a case – justice seemingly a steady, slow trickle. Like a river’s watercourse, prayer looks different each day, but it happens faithfully, rhythmically, in the knowledge that justice begins and ends with God.

In his book Good News About Injustice, IJM’s CEO Gary Haugen writes about ‘compassionate permanence – a courageous and generous capacity to remember the needs of an unjust world even when they are out of our immediate sight’. Just as an infant loses interest in a toy when it is removed from sight, so too is it easy to lose interest in the reality of injustice in our world. There have been times that my heart has been powerfully moved to stop and fight in prayer for a person or situation, only to then so quickly forget. It is through rhythms of daily prayer that I am beginning to cultivate a remembrance of those suffering abuse and oppression in our world. Only by the steady, never-failing stream of prayer, will we see breakthrough – people rescued and healed, systems and nations transformed, a world meandering towards justice.

Every river, every rhythm, starts somewhere – join the global prayer movement and see justice roll on.

Don’t know where to start? Sign-up for IJM’s updates and pray with us.

Zoë Anderson is part of the International Justice Mission (IJM) team; working throughout Scotland to mobilise volunteers, students and youth in championing the work of justice within their own spheres and according to their own strengths. IJM is a global organisation made up of lawyers, social workers, investigators and community activists who protect the poor from violence. Since being founded in 1997, they have grown to become the world’s largest international anti-slavery organisation, partnering with local authorities around the world to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems.

For further ideas and inspiration around how to pray in times of crisis and in situations of injustice, check out the Prayer page on the the 24-7 Prayer website.

Reigniting the Light of Christmas – Walking in Darkness

The final blog post of our “Reigniting the Light of Christmas” comes from Kelsey of Edinburgh.

I open my eyes.
The dark leaps to fill my vision as
Deepest night yawns ahead of me.
I am alone.

Straining to see,
Neon spots flicker across my sight,
rotating in a dizzying mirage
Until I let go of looking
And embrace the unknown.

I reach out a hand
And catch a whisper of wind.
Cool air rustling dry leaves to my left
And whistling along a stone wall to my right,
Calling me forward.

Fingertips feeling
And breeze at my back
I make my way through inky black
Until sudden singing catches my breath
And breaks over my head in waves of euphoria;
“Glory, glory, glory!”

My shuffling steps quicken
And soon an intriguing waft of spices
Mixes with the rust of earth and leaves,
Until the bitter tang of ammonia
Takes my nose by surprise.

Then empty air meets my right hand
As I reach the end of the wall;
I turn to face the light revealed,
spilling from an open door.

Gathered in the glow
A jumble of bodies
Drawn out of the dark
To the light that has come.

Breath and song rise into the cold night
Mingling with the earthy scents and hubbub of humanity.

Hands still outstretched, unsteady,
I walk in to a welcome,
To a babe in the straw.
A small room awash with light
My fingertip held in a tiny clasp
No longer alone in the dark.

Kelsey is originally from New Zealand but is very much at home in Scotland, where she works in textiles in a weaving mill and spends her free time creating other beautiful bits of art and poetry.

Reigniting the Light of Christmas – Thankfulness

John 1 says of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.“ It continues on to say that Jesus is the “true light”. The run-up to Christmas is filled with lights – twinkling fairy lights, candles, lanterns, signs alight and flashing as businesses all compete for the attention of shoppers. Some of the lights are pleasant and cheery, some not so much. But none of them last. When the season is over they will all be taken away and we will be plunged into wintery darkness once again. But the “true light” that entered into our world long ago does not leave us. He still shines out in the darkness and we as His followers have a unique opportunity at Christmas to pull back the curtain of busyness, consumerism and false attempts at merry-making for the true Light to be seen in and through our lives.

Therefore, we asked a few people to share with us over the next few weeks how they are personally reigniting the “true” light of Christmas in their own lives this year.
Alex from Orkney shares with us how thankfulness and gratitude helps him to reignite the light of Christmas.

Christmas has arrived once again and I doubt I am the only one who enjoys buying and receiving gifts at Christmas.

When I get a gift at Christmas I love being able to thank the person who has given it to me. It is so good to say thanks when you receive a gift, to acknowledge the giver’s thoughtfulness and kindness.

Recently I have been aware of the goodness of God before praying and have been realizing afresh just how amazing the Giver of life is. Ruth and I have both been overwhelmed by his kindness and are thankful for this. We think there is nothing better than knowing and resting in the truth that God has given us so many gifts even before we start to pray.

‘Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name’ Psalm 100:4

The list of gifts Jesus has given us is endless. He has given us love, joy, peace and life in abundance. Jesus came bring us into right standing with God. And because of this gift of righteousness we get to be in God’s presence. What a beautiful place to be. But it is no good receiving an amazing gift and not knowing who to be thankful to for it.

‘Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow’
James 1:17

Praise God that at this time of year we get to understand and know afresh the one to be thankful towards. Not only for the gifts he has given us, but for creating us to be in His Presence.

Alex Green is married to Ruth and they live in Orkney and attend Stromness Baptist Church. Alex works as a Landscape Builder and also enjoys making sculptures from time to time.