Thought for the Month, November 2023 by Rev. Catharine Hughes

When we dont have words 

Over the past month, horrific images of violence have bombarded our television screens following the deadly terrorist attack of Hamas on Israel, and then the retributive siege and bombing of Gaza by Israel. Never a fully peaceful part of the world, the latest incursions have rapidly escalated and risk drawing other nations around into full-blown war. 

Into this I struggle to find words. How can people be so barbaric to other humans? We, who have a common humanity under God, are designed to live in harmony together. I realise we will never all agree on everything, but loving disagreement is a vast distance from the horrors of war.  Street art on the walls of the shopping mall in Chorlton declares Lemn Sissays poem: 

“Said the sun to the moon  

Said the head to the heart  

‘We have more in common  

Than sets us apart’.” 

I pray for peace, though the words sometimes feel hollow, helpless and hopeless as more atrocities unfold. I pray for justice, but struggle with the anger and deeply held convictions on both sides of the argument. I lament with the psalmistshow long, how long? I weep with Jesus.  

This month we will stand at memorials and cenotaphs across the nation, gratefully remembering those who gave their lives in two world wars so that we could live in peace. Seeing the events in Israel and Palestine reminds us that peace is never to be taken for granted, and is always fragile. It is notable that our commemoration is not with words (though the familiar war poems are read) nor with music (though the Last Post is sounded) but with silence. Into the silence we put our thoughts, our prayers, our hopes, our sorrows. Into the silence we can plead with God: never again.  

Its ok not to have words. 


From The Methodist Church website: 

Loving God, 

I see the news and I am afraid. 

Violence is spiralling out of control. 

I don’t know what to think or feel. 

The temptation to fall into hatred, or despair  

feels very close at hand. 

Help me to remember that nothing in all creation  

can separate me from your love that I know in Jesus. 

May your perfect love for me cast out my fear  

and free me to discern what is mine to do  

amidst the chaos of this suffering world.