Words of Light and Hope from Jane McLarty
Back in 2019 I was in Cambridge cycling home from work at midday. I stopped at a crossroads to wait for the traffic lights to change and became conscious of the sun’s rays beating down, like an assault! That was the day that the last temperature record was set in the UK when we topped 38 degrees. Suddenly the words of the Psalm came home to me:
‘The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.’ (Ps 121:5-6)
Of course, such temperatures are nothing new to those in other parts of the world, and perhaps it takes the coming of such heat to us to bring home the reality of climate change. But alongside this call to action we can also reflect on those passages in the Bible which talk of God as our refuge in hard times: ‘a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.’ (Isa 23:4) Jesus talks of the Kingdom of God being like a great tree (growing from a tiny seed) that offers all kinds of birds shelter in its shade (Mark 4:30-32).
Our cool church offers shelter and shade in these hot days (and there will surely be more to come) – and we might pray that all who come in for respite from the heat may in the cool stillness know that they are not alone; may in these moments apart sense the long centuries of prayer soaked into this place – and may perhaps, like RS Thomas, see ‘love in a dark crown of thorns blazing’ (In a Country Church).