I find days where one remembers things fascinating. The mixture of things that different people remember on different days. Like the post I did back in February where cleaning out for Lent, loving your pet and social justice were all “celebrated” together.
A strange juxtapose happens again every 12th July, or has since about 2014 when it was decided to use this day to celebrate/commemorate Malala Yousafzai, the amazing young woman who at 17 was shot by the Taliban for advocating and encouraging female education in Pakistan. From around 1795 within the Irish Protestant communities 12th July was the day to celebrate William of Orange’s defeat of the last ever Catholic king of Britain, James II. A victory that is best remembered for passing that law that “no future monarch could be a Catholic or be married to a Catholic” as opposed to the establishment of a parliamentary democracy, representing a shift from an absolute monarchy to parliamentary monarchy.
I had written quite a ranty post about oppression, freedom, holding on to fears and hatreds but after reading both Lily Lewin’s post on Friday 30th June about praying for one’s country and Steve Wickham’s post about tolerance and hospitality in reconciliation I had a change of heart.
I still think that even though those commemoration dates might look random, God, somewhere in their infinite wisdom, wants to teach us something. Also, I believe, things don’t just happen by coincidence. So I was meant to read those two Godspace articles and I was meant to be wanting to write about 12th July and I know about both the events of the 12th July Orange marches and Malala Yousafzai. So what is God trying to say?
I think it is about praying with an open heart and not a closed heart. We need to have tolerance and hospitality within our hearts when we pray as much as when we open our homes to others. I wonder when Jesus said about letting in the beggars etc for a meal that he may have meant having our hearts open to those people rather than having already judged and boxed them into what we think we know already.
What if with the Taliban instead of praying that they cease to exist, we prayed not just enlightenment but a full realisation of God and all that means in their land, in their culture? We must remember that it wasn’t that long ago that women in Western countries were deprived of education, of voting rights, of rights with their own money and property, were seen as second-class citizens. Also it was not that long ago when slavery was thought of as just part of God’s plan. And even though most Christians don’t advocate slavery, how often do we turn a blind eye?
So instead of condemning let us ask God in prayer, what is the real desire for these peoples who are remembered whether through Orange marches, through thinking of Malala, and of all the other “celebrations” that occur during July?
I often get a little pang in my heart when I am with Americans who are celebrating 4th of July and wonder what things would have been like for the UK, the US and rest of the world if a form of interdependence had been sought then rather than independence.
I often think that instead of being triumphalistic at this time, whether with the Orange Marches, the remembering of Malala and feeling superior to groups like the Taliban, of the various Independence Days that occur in July, we humble ourselves and pray.
As God clearly says in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if we, God’s people, who are called to pray for the nations, for ourselves and for others, really humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, turn from our self-righteous, know-it-all, fearful, greedy, self-seeking ways, then God will hear us, will forgive us and then will heal the land, whether this is just our town, our country or our whole world. Remember our land is this whole earth we stand on.
When it comes to anything from Northern Ireland’s marching season, the Taliban and their issues with female education, and all the other issues that cover our earth, are we willing first and foremost to humble ourselves and say “God what do you really want me to pray?” Then are we prepared to be silent, to listen, to allow God’s tolerance, generosity and hospitality sweep over us and so it can then pour forth to the nations?
The garden has seemingly unending lessons to teach us about God and what it means to be a person of faith. We read about the miracle of the fish and the loaves but experience a miracle every time we harvest God’s bounty. Join us as we discuss connections between community, spirituality and gardening. Explore the wonderful ways that God and God’s story are revealed through the rhythms of planting, growing and harvesting. Spiritual insights, practical advice for organic backyard gardeners and time for reflection will all enrich and deepen our faith. This series is based on Christine Sine’s popular book, To Garden with God.