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Bishop Mark: praying with those voting

September 17, 2014

I have just returned to Bishop’s House after a day of visiting and praying in and with the churches of the Diocese. In some there were others praying quietly, in some just the peace of a sunny September day. In each of the churches I managed to reach I prayed for the people of Scotland as we approach the time when we will all need to decide what choice we will make at the ballot box. I thought I might reflect with you on those prayers I shared today:

‘We pray for Scotland and its people at this time of referendum and ask for wisdom and discernment as we look to the future’.
Our prayer is for all the people of Scotland, those who have lived here all their lives and those who have moved to live among us more recently.  This referendum is for all those who live in Scotland and who look to the future of the nation as their future. We need to heal division where it occurs and to pray for community cohesion and strength.

‘We pray for respect for each other in our differences, and a genuine desire to listen and learn why others think differently’.
We are now aware of some aggression surfacing on both sides of the debate.  Our prayer is that we can hold back on attacking others who have a right to their opinion.  We will all need to live as neighbours when the debate is over, we should want to know why someone thinks differently, not be afraid of that difference.

‘We pray for patience and courage for the people of the land as we face uncertainties and adjustments whatever the outcome’.
Things will have changed on the morning of the 19th; promises will need to be honoured, new pathways trodden and fresh challenges faced.  We will need to support each other and care for those who don’t understand and we will need all the strength of our people to bring us to calmer waters.

‘We pray for new energy to meet the challenges of poverty and injustice in our society that have come to light in our debates and discussions’.
We have heard from all sides and all political parties just what they wish to do to address the inequality and injustice we know is stalking this nation. Those who are struggling with daily living will have heard their plight used in political argument, let us make sure we do not forget all those dreams we have created. We need the resolve to really care for those left out in the cold.

‘We pray for those who govern, that they may do so creatively and wisely for the good of the nation and the wellbeing of those beyond our shores and borders’.
We have had so many weeks and months focussing on what the referendum means to us, for Scotland, for our community and our own families.  We need to keep before our eyes the needs of those who have no home, no country and no security, to keep perspective on all we do.

‘We pray for the churches that in continuing to work for unity among themselves they may bear witness to the richness that comes from reconciliation and acceptance of difference’.
I have prayed these prayers with people of all branches of the church in Scotland, with people who think very differently from me, but who recognise that we are all seeking the same goal. Help the people of our land to recognise the differences in each other and to rejoice in those differences. We pray that we can learn from them so that we can all work for the good of our communities.

‘We pray for all in our communities who are in need at this time, because of illness, unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunity or the experience of rejection, and pray that we may continue to work towards a society where all are valued and given their place’
Surely we would all say Amen to that!