On Sunday 18th, our pastors Frog and Amy, together with our mission partners, The Message Trust, held an open air service for the community of Kensington and Chelsea, in response to the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and the many lives lost.
If you missed it, here is Frogs message to the Grenfell community this sunday:
Today is a service of prayer – a chance to pray for those who have been lost and those who have lost so much. It is a chance to pray for this specific neighbourhood, this intermingled community, it is a chance to pray for all those who have poured themselves out in help and compassion, it is a chance to pray for those who are frantic with uncertainty, torn apart by grief, and the many thousands whose lives are on hold, or those who loved intimately those who have been lost. Today is also a day to receive prayer, to receive comfort. Some say that prayer works for us as humans, regardless of who we pray to or how we pray, or whether god is there at all.
Why should we pray – because we need to. There are victims, heartache and heartbreak. There is death, horror, despair and shock. There are rivers of pain. Broken hearts. Wounds.
Who should we pray to: don’t take someone else’s word for it – let us look at what God says about himself.
He says HE IS HERE FOR YOU.
3 He heals the broken-hearted
and bandages their wounds.
We pray because:
- He is.
- He is here.
- He is here for you.
1 – He is
How good it is to sing to our God,
for praise is pleasant and lovely.
– Because he is – we worship. We sing to a good and perfect and loving God who IS. No delusion, no projection, no idea. One of the psalms says ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion, there we hung up our lyres.’ Singing is a hallmark of God’s people who have met Jesus – in trauma we hang up our instruments, put them to one side. But then it is time to sing again.
2 The Lord rebuilds City;
he gathers the nation’s scattered people.
3 He heals the broken-hearted
and bandages their wounds.
4 He counts the number of the stars;
he gives names to all of them.
5 Our Lord is great, vast in power;
his understanding is infinite.[a]
6 The Lord helps the oppressed
but brings the wicked to justice.(to the ground)
These are 10 things we know about what God does that express who he IS; his actions flow from his character, his benefits flow from his being, his willingness to help is matched by his ability to help:
Rebuilding the broken and devastated places
Gathering the scattered and the exiled people
Healing the broken hearted
Binding up and bandaging the scorched wounds
God who NUMBERS the stars numbers the hairs on our head, knows every detail of every person when they have been lost – they are not lost to him.
God also NAMES those that he numbers. What makes them special, unique, precious, gives them their identities, friendships. He knows their names, he knows our names.
God can work miracles, and do wonderful things with his power when human solutions fail.
God can be infinitely wise when human wisdom falters, when human wisdom got us here in the first place. We are in need of inspired leadership. God UNDERSTANDS.
God HELPS the afflicted. He has both the power to help and the desire to help wherever there is affliction and oppression.
God brings to account. The Lord will bring to account those who require justice. In this life and beyond. The blood of victims, pain and suffering rises to heaven and is heard in his courts. God himself will speak on behalf of the victims, but has even paid the price for those who have done wrong. It is possible that a multitude of people partially to blame, some will be discovered to have neglected duties and will be brought to account – but God sees and cannot be dodged. From the days of Cain and Abel – he hears the blood crying for justice.
2 – He is Here
Latymer Community Church, though it has had a variety of names, is nevertheless an unbroken relay race of love and care, inspired by the love of God seen in Jesus. It was founded as a mission, just a few steps from this very spot in 1863, first as a drop-in school for the most needy, then with free education for boys, then girls and a nursery. Year after year volunteers have loved and cared for one another from this local area as part of this community. When the Westway and this whole estate were built the old church was demolished and this church and community centre were rebuilt here as part of this estate. We meet and we pray here, we have a wall of prayer here, and now we seek God…here, as people have done for 150 years.
Some of us are here to show love, support and appreciation, some of us are here wrecked by grief and shock, wrung out with exhaustion. But we are here also because God is here – here to be spoken to, here to be listened to…here to help.
Psalm 23 says ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – I will fear no evil for You are with me, your rod and staff comfort me’
Isaiah 60:2 says ‘Darkness cover the earth, and total darkness the peoples, but the Lord will shine over you’
Jesus said in John 8:12 ‘I am the Light of the world’.
For many months to come this tragedy will cast a long, deep and dreadful shadow, there will be those living in the valley of the shadow of death. More than ever there is a need for hope and light and comfort. Only the Light of the world could truly pierce such a deep, profound and lasting darkness. Only a love which has tasted such darkness could truly understand, truly sympathise, and this love is shown through a man who was nailed to two splintered pieces of wood.
3 – He is here for you
The psalm says 3 “He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds”.
HE HEALS> How does he heal?
By his own brokenness.
And in this place there is a cross – it is not a religious symbol, it is a moment in history. The reason it is so fundamental is that, like the courage of a fireman, friend or family member running into a burning building, God himself ran headlong into our grief and pain, into our sin and shame, into our worry and the weights of our weariness and said ‘I am HERE – on the cross – for You.’
If someone says ‘I’m here for you’ – we are touched – but when they arrive, and then throw their arms around us – then we know they are ‘here for us’. God so loved us, that he didn’t send an email, he sent more than a message or a book, more than a messenger, he sent his son- he came in Jesus Christ. His arms flung wide on the cross – I am here for you. And they stayed there – though it costs everything – until the full burden of distance from God and the brokenness of society was poured out upon him. He suffered.
He was broken. He was broken for you and broken for me.
He was broken for the broken; he was broken for the broken-hearted.
He allowed himself to be broken – because he LOVES. Unreservedly and eternally.
He is here – he HEALS and he BANDAGES, he BINDS and wraps wounds.
Today the love of God can wrap around those who are hurting by the power of the Holy Spirit. God himself will minister to you today, God himself will comfort, touch and care, by his Spirit. A sweet presence which consoles and soothes, cleans lungs of acrid spoke, washes out eyes smarting with tears, touches the exhausted who have ‘emptied themselves of all but love’. Some of us are here today to pray for those who have spent days caring for others and no-one has cared for them. Some of us are here purely as friends to say ‘You are not alone in your pain and grief and suffering’. We are not here to be strong – we are here to show our love, our appreciation, our solidarity – in prayer, in love, in your uncertainty. Commending you to the healing, bandaging, binding wrapping love of Christ, to the deeply ministering power and infinite wisdom of the Spirit of God, to the tender compassion of the Heavenly Father.
He is here for YOU- he heals the broken-hearted when we come to him.
Coming to God and seeking him is easy to do.
Jesus said “Come to me all who are weak and heavily laden – and I will give you rest for your souls” – are you weak, are you burdened with cares, grief and worry, is your soul stretched out like an elastic band to the point of snapping. There is one who can give you rest –
And He is.
He is Here.
He is Here for you.
Coming doesn’t involve fancy words or even sometimes words at all. Like a small child stumbles to a parent before she can walk, so we can stumble into his arms today. Maybe for the first time, maybe for the first time in a long time. COME. Come and connect or reconnect with the one who truly deeply knows, numbers and loves you, to heal and bandage you, to help and restore, rebuild and gather you.
A simple prayer – ‘Here I am Lord – I am weak, I am heavy laden, and I need rest for my soul’.
In the presence of great and perfect love none of us is truly unblemished, so we turn from our sins and our distance, our shame and our guilt and ask for forgiveness. We reach out to the outstretched arms of the God who is truly HERE. And HERE for us. And we ask him to take us forward, to fill us with his healing Spirit and bind our wounds.