Monday, 17 August 2009

Memorising light and salvation and praying for the Pacific

This morning Faautu Talapusi from Samoa spoke and sang from the heart with great calm and authenticity. She remembered how her parents had made her and her two sisters memorise verses from the Bible each week, she was honest about the resentment she felt. But contemplating the challenges of life today and meditating on Psalm 27, she pointed to two constants, the one fear, the other "light and salvation" or as she put it "God's awesome love". Somehow the gentleness and beauty of the verses she was obliged to learn as a child percolated through with a message of meaning and support.
I was moved as I listened to her because I have met so many people for whom a similar regime of rote learning would have broken their spirit and faith. For Faautu that constrained learning did not lead her to memorise resentment but to memorise light, salvation and love.
She also linked this fear and salvation motif to the challenges facing her region of the world today:

For the Pacific Islands, its churches and communities – there is the constant threat of climate change amongst other things – when the water levels rise to the point that our islands are inundated and uninhabitable what then? How do you deal with a whole country without land, not a single inch of land? Is that still a country? How do you take a culture, its people and identity and transport everything to a foreign land? How do you tell people that they must leave the land that buries their placenta, and their ancestors under water? How does one do this?
I was also moved because this week, as so often during the year praying with the ecumenical prayer cycle, the countries we were remembering were facing current crises or grief. The challenge to all of us is to memorise more light and salvation and less fear as we go through life.
God of mercy – we pray for the people and churches of Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kanaky and Tahiti. We pray that they continue to bring witness to your Word as they struggle against political instability, economic uncertainty and the consequences of climate change.