Thought for the Day by Bob Shaw (St Michael’s)
St Paul was a man at the centre of an adventure story which came at high cost in terms of personal risk and suffering. In today’s NT reading he is writing to the early Christian church at Philippi but we can easily forget that he is writing under Roman prison conditions. He describes himself as ‘an apostle in chains’ although he is still able to send 2 colleagues to support a church far away. It isn’t difficult to imagine ourselves in prison at this time is it? The terms of our captivity are different from Paul’s but we certainly feel the negative effects of lockdown and quarantine. St Paul’s letter is however a positive one encouraging unity and continuing faith in Jesus who also received cruel punishment.
By coincidence I have recently been reading the autobiography of a Christian who also experienced cruelty on a major scale. Terry Waite was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy to the Middle East and was kidnapped in Lebanon in 1987. He subsequently spent 1736 days of confinement in Beirut, most of them in isolation and in chains! In spite of that horrific experience he held on to his faith in Jesus and since his release he became involved with hostages and their families as well as working alongside those on the margins of society.
By another coincidence, or is it providence, I recently discovered that Terry Waite has encouraged people to listen to music composed by Karl Jenkins, particularly recommending ‘The Peacemakers’ which offers inspiration and solace for those who, like us, are living through hard times. It features texts from some of the greatest peacemakers throughout history, including Ghandi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa, as well as words from the Bible and the Quran. Jenkins also composed a Mass for Peace called ‘The Armed Man’. Terry Waite described such music as having the capacity to breathe harmony into the soul. During these difficult times I hope these tracts will bring you harmony of peace today.
Tract 1 ‘The Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi’
Tract 2 Agnus Dei