God of peace,
whose Son Jesus Christ
proclaimed the kingdom
and restored the broken to
wholeness of life:
look with compassion on the
anguish of the world
and by your healing power
make whole both people
through our Lord and Saviour
post-communion for the
3rd Sunday before Advent
IN THE Common Worship, provision of post communions,
some classic prayers of the Christian tradition have been drawn on
(as we have seen in my previous two contributions to this
column), together with more recent material (as we shall see
next week). In addition, prayers have also been included from other
Anglican provinces, reflecting the fact that our spiritual
inheritance is continents wide, as well as centuries deep.
This prayer has come, via the ASB, from the province of Southern
Africa. As it is always linked to Remembrance Sunday, it is
meaningful that such a prayer comes out of the experience of the
wounds of the inhumanity of apartheid, and is given to us in the
context of the wounds of war.
Strikingly, of all the post-communion prayers in Common Worship,
this is the only one that does not pray for anything for
ourselves. One or two other post-communions ask God for something
in relation to "your people" or "your Church", but this prayer is
entirely objective and altruistic, as it were: there is no "we" or
"us" in the petition for God's help.
We are, of course, among those people who need to be made whole;
we are ourselves the broken who long for restoration; but, at
Remembrancetide above all, it seems appropriate that our prayers
and our communion have a wider reference. We pray for God's
compassion for those who endure the anguish of conflict past and
present; for those who still bear the scars, visibly or
In the Bible, compassion is an extreme response, something felt
"in the guts". The Gospel-writers describe Jesus as "snorting with
anger" at the power of evil to cause disorder, disease, and death
(Mark 1.41; similarly, John 11.33, 38). The powerful image in Greek
is of flared nostrils, like those of a wild horse, although our
translations tame this to "moved with pity" or "deeply
Perhaps we should seek to react more strongly to the evils of
violence and hatred. Perhaps we should snort more with indignation
at the waste of lives, and communities deprived of wholeness by
Although this prayer is worded objectively, and seems not
directly to be about us - God could make peace happen, despite us -
we are invited to be instrumental in its fulfilment. Jesus sent his
disciples out with his message and his power; and, as we go from
communion, it is we who take his healing presence and his light
into the world.
The image that comes to mind for me, as people go out from holy
communion, is that of the lights streaming out in the darkness
across the hillside in a small Greek village, where I was staying
one year at the time of the Orthodox celebration of Easter.
Everyone had their own candle, lit from the Paschal candle, to
carry out of church, and the pinpoints of light radiated and
spread across the valley, to the furthest places I could see,
as people made their way home.
The challenge of peace is huge: only the reality of God breaking
into our world can make peace a reality. But God can use our faint
prayers and frail hopes. And, as we pray for peace, God may
choose to use us, even us, to be channels of that peace.
The Revd Dr Jo Spreadbury is Vicar of Abbots Langley, in the
diocese of St Albans.