Sunday, December 21, 2008
I've noticed a number of notices around New Cross inviting people to a 'Neighbourhood Prayer Watch' at the Barnes Wallis Centre. It says 'Come and pray for God to take control of the welfare of the Kender area, from gun, knife and other crimes common in London'. With a 13 year old arrested in New Cross for possessing a gun I can understand their motivation, even if I think that it's people's action rather than divine intervention that will make a difference. Still I guess even an atheist could accept that a prayer can be a collective affirmation of a wish, and therefore a step towards people trying to put this wish into practice.
When I saw Jon Savage's recent Joy Division documentary I was struck by the words of the Civic Prayer for Manchester: "Grant us, O God, a vision of our City, fair as she might be; a city of justice, where none shall prey on others; a city of plenty, where poverty shall cease to fester; a city in community, where success shall be founded on service, and honour be given to worth alone; a city of peace, where order shall not rest on force, but on mutual respect. Hear the silent prayer of our hearts as we each pledge our time and strength and thought to speed the day of her coming beauty and righteousness.”
It made me wonder if there are similar prayers for London, or even for particular areas like Deptford. In his excellent book Night Haunts, Sukhdev Sandhu describes the nuns at Tyburn Convent praying for London's souls in their Night Adoration vigil every evening. But it is not just Christians who pray for the protection of the city and its people - I am told for instance that members of the Pagan Federation performed a 2004 London protection ritual that involved driving a candle round the M25 (they also did something on the circle line, with a broom instead of a candle). In the same year, Dragon Environmental Network did something similar at Green Angels in Southwark, creating a London protection bindrune (pictured). There was also a Hindu protection mantra and prayers from Jews, Muslims and others at a vigil for the victims of the 2005 London bombs.
So are there any South London specific prayers (e.g. blessings for particular places)? They could be from any spiritual tradition or even secular humanist verses.