At twenty past one last night an email arrived from a friend in Canada. I was asleep. Four minutes later a friend in Wales posted a photo on Instagram. I was asleep. At just after 3am a colleague filming in Jamaica sent a cry for script help (nothing fancy). I was asleep. An hour later I answered the shout from Jamaica and then started work on a talk about prayer. Some of you were asleep, some were at the close of day, and some slap bang at high noon.
A friend, an American living in Wales, works here and also has a job back home in the US, a job she works at online. There is a short window when her working day coincides with theirs, so she lives in two time zones.
Now we can be one community as we never were in the past. Once this scrubby little island thought it ruled the world, and we had no real awareness that while we slumbered under the moon others stood under the sun. Oh, we knew it, of course we did, but we were an island nation, sufficient in our island life without looking beyond. I wonder if the medieval peasant had any real awareness of a world outside his days and nights? Did he ever think of other nations and other peoples as his day slipped away westwards?
But all that’s a preamble. I just want to say that I love the wee small hours of the night. There’s a leaden silence, a blanket of peace in this small corner of the world, and as that tranquility fades, stealing silently towards a film set in Jamaica (midnight there right now) and towards that friend in Canada, towards a friend in Illinois, I think of the God who created this immense Universe, this tiny Earth.
This is a time for prayer. Not because of the dark outside, and not even because of the stillness in this soon-busy street, but because at this moment God has reminded me of that great verse in Colossians, ‘He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.’ The phrase ‘hold together’ , or ‘cohere’ has taken on a very scientific relevance as we’ve come to understand that our Universe is expanding. It is, indeed, a miracle that things hold together, and the force doing that, keeping all things stable and compacted, is simply God. But even that sense of wonder isn’t really what’s spurring me on to prayer. It’s the realisation that all these people, all these millions, including a mad director in the Caribbean (you are) and young librarian in Illinois, and my friends in Canada, and you and me, we’re all loved. We are all in His hands, and the love he lavishes on us is too wonderful and rich for our poor words to express.
We can be united in prayer and conscious of each other’s needs, we can reach across oceans to support each other, to raise all people up in prayer, caring for them, thanking God for them, thanking God for all the work we know he’s doing, for sustaining this amazing cosmos and thanking him for this small tiny corner of it, for all the people here, for the people I love even now waking up and getting ready for this Wednesday, as they too turn to him in prayer….. and I thank him that I’m part of it, that I belong. Even me, with my faltering heart.
How can we stop from singing? How can we stop from praying? We bloomin’ well can’t