It is 25 years of the Drumcree standoff. An Orange Lodge wanting to continue a march. A Catholic community not welcoming them through. We want to pray for safety at Drumcree and over all the Twelfth Parades. We want to pray for contact, listening, negotiation and compromise where there are contentious issues. We encourage the Orange Order as they attempt to rid their parades of anti social behaviour.
I remember the days when my summer began when my dad drove under the arch that my Granda built. I remember watching the bonfire from the window of my first flat even though I was too young to go down to it. I remember watching my Granda march.
Since then sectarianism has hijacked a cultural celebration. I hope the best of our Northern Irishness comes out this week in a peaceful passing off of parades and no effigies or flags on the bonfires.
Here is a poem and then a prayer...
Strike the match of supposed tradition
Listen for what the flames tell
In every flag or effigy burning
There’s a crackle of the devil’s yell
This is no cultural celebration
This is the hate of the clan
Sectarianism in petrol and wood
The fires of hell being fanned
Instead, take all those empty pallets
Old tyres, their tread worn thin
Pile our pride there, way up high
With all our arrogance and sin
Hurl on myths that we’ve been told
All those lies and exaggerations
The caricatures we paint ourselves
That cripple our children and nation
Watch the sparks of repentance fall
Our Troubles burn in the flickering light
Warmed by loving of even enemies
On a glorious bonfire night.
Let us pray.
Lord we come before the God of peace
Of love and of grace
We worship you as holy
Utterly different than what we know
Or have intuition toward
A God who became one of us
Gave up all
To take on flesh
In a manger
To wash feet
To die, "the Lamb Of God who takes away the sin of the world"
Lord we seek your presence
In this our Twelfth week in Northern Ireland
We pray for safety
Safety for those building bonfires
Those around bonfires
Those who control bonfires
And the neighbourhoods around bonfires
We pray for safety for the security forces and fire service
We also pray for safety for the parades
We pray for grace and tolerance from those marching
And from those in the neighbourhoods they walk through
May there be peace on our streets
And no headlines on our TVs.
Lord, we yearn for your presence this week
Lord interrupt and remove the hate and sectariansim
As well as the flags and effigies from the bonfires
Instead Lord, pile up our false caricatures
Our myths and lies and exaggerations of one another
May we stop the cycle
To repent from generations of animosity
To become peacemakers
Lovers of the enemy
Followers of Jesus in the Kingdom of God
Lord interrupt with your love and peace
And that holy justice that lays down its own life for the crimes committed against it
Lord may your will be done
On the streets of Northern Ireland this week
In the name of the King of Kings.