Prayer for Liverpool
I’m not from around here, as many will know. I was born and raised in Denton, Manchester, but spent much of my life up in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire, in the village of Ribchester. I moved there when working at the Royal Preston Hospital and it became my home from then on. My spiritual home too, since the parish church there became my sending parish, and Blackburn my home diocese where I was ordained. It’s a beautiful place – my house was just a few hundred yards from the river Ribble itself. Surrounded by nature, the valley, river, birds, cattle and sheep – one feels very close to God and the beauty of creation. And the people….the warmth of their love and friendship is very similar to that which I’ve experienced here in Liverpool; I love serving both equally!
Yesterday was Good Shepherd Sunday where in John’s gospel we hear of our Lord Jesus Christ as the good shepherd, leading his flock – calling them each by name; leading, guiding, protecting. This image of Jesus is very powerful in the bible – and one which, when I lived in Ribchester, was very easy to understand. For the life of the sheep farmer and the sheep themselves were an integral part of the rural life. Even so, it’s only at critical times in rural life that that relationship becomes even more vivid and obvious. One such occasion was Christmas 2015, when Ribchester made the headlines for the disastrous floods which occurred there and throughout the whole of the north. My house thankfully was not affected. But many houses were and so too the lives of many in the valley, not least the sheep farmers.
It was the speed which took us all by surprise….even those who’d lived there for generations. From the village, across the river, the scene was one of desperation; one we’ll never forget…..of the sheep farmer and his sheep. The river rose so quickly that half a dozen sheep, many pregnant ewes, were suddenly cut-off by the rising flood water. The farmer bravely waded out, chest deep in places, to try to encourage the sheep back to dry land. Sheep are not good swimmers (something I only learnt that day) and when pregnant, scared and saturated are naturally exhausted too. Thankfully through a lot of coaxing (and prayer from some of us on the opposite bank), all were rescued – to tumultuous applause; the last dragged floating on its back through the water.
In our own desperate times in this crisis, the life and work of that farmer, the love and care he gave to the sheep, is mirrored by many around our city right now….by all peoples, all faiths. It opens my eyes in seeing the good shepherd in so many, helping those around us in really difficult situations – some becoming more obvious as the lockdown continues. But the image of the good shepherd isn’t just in the faces of leaders; as Jesus taught us, it can be in each and every one of us. We do not need to be a designated leader, to lead by example in the way of Christ; the gift of the spirit is there for all of us to use, to be there, like that farmer, to help others in their times of need. So dear friends, may our eyes, hearts and minds be open to the struggles of others as the weeks progress – and may we all be that good shepherd; in Jesus’ name.
With my love and prayers for you all; stay safe….
While you're here:
Why not prepare for the coming Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of this website: https://www.prayerforliverpool.org/prayer-resources.html.
Prayer for Liverpool
brought to you from Liverpool Cathedral
St James Mount
Liverpool Cathedral is a place of encounter.
Built by the people, for the people, to the Glory of God