A Prayer for Nova Scotia

Since Sunday’s shocking massacre of at least twenty-two good and innocent folk in rural Nova Scotia we have all been thinking of idyllic places and special friends in that beautiful part of our country and trying our best to pray. Our whole nation grieves, but in Nova Scotia where, as my colleague Dale Rose has reminded me, the traditional six degrees of separation can be reduced to two or three degrees, everyone is feeling a personal connection to this horrific loss of life.

And so many of the stories emerging about those whose lives were taken only serve to affirm the goodness we associate with the Maritimes and with rural life across our country, where people feel such a connection with the earth below and God above and the neighbour beside that doors are left unlocked and pantries open. One need only think of the iconic words in the beautiful ‘Song of the Mira,’ which champions the wonder of small town life in Nova Scotia.

Can you imagine a piece of the universe
More fit for princes and kings?
I’ll trade you ten of your cities for Marion Bridge
And the pleasure it brings…

And then into this good and pleasant land on a Sunday morning a wolf came in sheep’s clothing devouring the inhabitants of the green pastures. The only word for what happened on Sunday is evil and while I too struggle to find the words to pray, perhaps it doesn’t need to be so complicated. I find it helps to go back to the prayer Jesus gave us.

“Our Father, who art in heaven.” O God, we turn from our focus on the source of this evil, to tune our hearts and minds afresh to you. For you alone are above the chaos and madness of this event. You invite us to call you Father and in your love to rediscover our connectedness to you and to all your children. O Father, we open our hearts to your love and lean on you in the hope of healing and restoration for the shattered lives and communities of Nova Scotia and beyond. May all those who grieve know they are forever near and dear to your heart.

“Hallowed be thy name.” In the midst of this darkness and evil when we might well turn to hatred and fear, we turn instead to you that our minds might be rooted in all that is good and precious in this life. And so we thank you for the wonder and beauty of each day and the blessings of life and love, for you are the source of every good and perfect gift.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Lord God, these incidents of violence and so many other things happening in these days are not heavenly. We therefore make no room for them in our hearts and homes and instead long and pray for the day when the voice of evil will be forever silenced by goodness and mercy and when death will be no more and when love and kindness will breath through every fabric of this planet.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Today is all we have O God. Help us not to fixate on the glories or failures of the past, or hoard and worry for tomorrow, but to trust you in the here and now where day by day you meet us full of mercy and grace. O Bread of Life meet the grieving families of Nova Scotia on this day and nurture them through to your eternal day.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” God cleanse us of the sin that lies within and enable us to meet both friend and foe with the same grace Christ extends to us. Help me to forgive and forget the sins of the other that I might be freed to forgive myself as you have already forgiven and forgotten my sin through Jesus Christ.

“And lead us not into temptation.” We are weak, but you are strong. Help us to lean on you in times of trial and testing that we might be true to you and to our best selves. And when we fall and fail, carry us in your mercy as only you can for you are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Carry the grieving folk of Nova Scotia through this chapter and lead them on to your Promised Land.

“But deliver us from evil.” O Christ, we commit to your care all the victims of this evil, believing that you were with them in their moments of despair. In that you have overcome all things we pray that you would carry them over and indeed deliver all those who grieve and mourn from the fears, tears, and scars of evil that your love might reign supreme in Nova Scotia and across this land.

“For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory…” Yes, you are the sovereign Lord of the Universe and so in silence we lift up all who grieve the violence in Nova Scotia and all who fight the battles against Covid-19 across this country and around the world and those too who struggle with other troubles and fears and in the quiet we wait, acknowledging the last word and the best word are yours.

“Forever…” Break the silence as you broke the spell of death at Easter and usher in your eternal day reassuring those who have lost loved ones along the way that In Christ we will be together again and all will be well forever. Amen.

We sang ‘Song of the Mira’ at the conclusion of the funeral of the Very Reverend Angus MacQueen, one of Nova Scotia’s finest sons and one of the greatest leaders the Canadian church has known. It was fitting as this song of Nova Scotia ends with a beautiful verse about being together again with those who have gone before us. Last Sunday morning an evil messenger rose up to spread bad news and fear, but every Sunday we celebrate the messenger of goodness and grace who God raised up to ensure that love will win and we will indeed be together again in Christ! Love wins.

Now I’ll conclude with a wish you go well:
Sweet be your dreams—and your happiness swell.
I’ll leave you here, for my journey begins;
I’m going to be with them again,
I’m going to be with them again.

The following link will take you to a rendition of this song by our friend John McDermott.