I wish everyone a Shanah Tovah, a good, safe and worthwhile year.
A prayer for the new year
May this be a year of healing for us, our societies, and our beautiful, beleaguered, wonderful world.
These months have brought mortality nearer us all, and grief to many homes. Some deaths have been lonely; some untimely; some the results of self-sacrifice to care for others. Sorrow doesn’t go away; it is gradually transformed. May life, which tears the heart apart, show its tenderness too, drawing together the torn edges of our wounds.
God of life, breathe love and purpose back into our spirits.
Many people have struggled with illness and its after-effects; the fear of it troubles us all. Moses prayed in just five words for his sister who became sick: ‘God, please, heal her, please.’ ‘Please!’ when we plead for someone we love is a big enough word on its own to absorb our whole heart.
God of healing, give us the dedication, science, finance, wise leadership and loving kindness to enable us to be cured.
Society has come together to care in creative and inspiring ways: neighbourhood groups; clapping, and cooking, for carers; mask-making, gown-sewing, medicines brought to the door. All age-groups and faiths have participated. But we’ve also seen the crevasses of inequality: hunger; children with screens for home study and children with none; families with gardens and families with no space for beds; people whose work is hectic, people whose income has gone.
God of justice, who deplores the attitude that ‘I’m alright and that’s your problem,’ make us redress the wrongs.
We’ve shared words of appreciation and kindness. We’ve said to people whom we never told before how much we value them. ‘They say “thank you”’ explained a man filling supermarket shelves. ‘My patients ask, “And doctor, how are you?”’ But there’s also a language of contempt at large: unbridled racism, mockery, contempt, especially towards women, unashamed lying.
God of truth and purity, make us cleanse how we speak and deepen how we listen.
The world has seen courageous and compassionate leadership. But we also witness the lack of integrity in high office, wilful deceit, absence of vision, refusal to submit to accountability and the failure to act swiftly on issues on which the planet depends.
God of integrity, guide us to do, influence others to do, and seek leaders who do what is right and just.
We’ve been attentive to beauty we missed before: What bird is that singing in these quietened skies? We’ve watched the colour of the leaves unfurling, now yellowing and curling. Walks and parks have been our solace. Yet we make nature sick and our habits destroy life in near and far away places.
God of creation, put wonder in our hearts and urgency in our conduct.
God of healing, you’ve entrusted us with life and power. Teach us, cajole us, shame us, but above all inspire us through love to be healers in your beautiful world whose birthday we celebrate now.