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In a speech during his time as President, after one of the many mass shootings in America (Oregon 2015), Barack Obama looked at the cameras and spoke almost in despair, “The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium ends up being routine, conversation after the aftermath of it … we have become numb to this …” People of faith across the globe, in the aftermath of the violence in Manchester that killed twenty two innocent parents and children and injured many more, might be wondering in the same way. Are our prayers becoming routine in the wake of violence? Is God hearing our prayers?

This Sunday, May 28th, lies between the Feast of Ascension and the Feast of Pentecost. For Jesus’ disciples the resurrection appearances are at an end and he has left the earth in a profound way. It is a time of waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. Into this context we read from Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel. This whole chapter shows Jesus praying to his Father before he goes to his passion and death. Jesus’ prayer shows his concern, not for himself, but for us, that we may know eternal life, life in God.

This Sunday at 8am and 10.30am in our Cathedral, we will reflect on the life of prayer, on the “eternal life” that Jesus longs for us to experience. And we will reflect on this praying life in the context of the tragedies like that which took place in Manchester this week.

Each week on Wednesday at 5.30pm at Choral Evensong, we light candles as we pray for peace in the world. When we light a candle we express our helplessness, our grief, our fear, our anger and also our hope in the face of events we cannot control. This Wednesday at 5.30pm, we will devote the service of Choral Evensong and candle lighting particularly to praying for the victims of the violence in Manchester. We do hope you will join us.

The Rev’d Jenny Wilson,
Canon Precentor.