In the Days of Caesar
—Rowan Williams, from the Welsh of Waldo Williams (1904-71)
In the days of Caesar, when his subjects went to be reckoned,
there was a poem made, too dark for him (naive with power) to read.
It was a bunch of shepherds who discovered
in Bethlehem of Judah, the great music beyond reason and reckoning:
shepherds, the sort of folk who leave the ninety-nine behind
so as to bring the stray back home, they heard it clear,
the subtle assonances of the day, dawning toward cock-crow
the birthday of the Lamb of God, shepherd of mortals.
Well, little people, and my little nation, can you see
the secret buried in you, that no Caesar ever captures in his lists?
Will not the shepherd come to fetch us in our desert,
gathering us in to give us birth again, weaving us into one
in a song heard in the sky over Bethlehem?
He seeks us out as wordhoard for his workmanship, the laureate of heaven.
—The Poems of Rowan Williams. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002, p. 103.
Almighty and merciful God, with great power you gathered the first Christians in the city of Jerusalem, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, defying the earthly power of the Roman empire. Grant that, like this first church in Jerusalem, the we may come together to be bold in preaching and living the good news of reconciliation and peace, wherever there is inequality and injustice.
We give thanks to you for Christian everywhere who pray for the peace of Palestine and Israel; Jerusalem is much in need of your peace.
Make as nothing all barriers of cultures and religions and fill the hearts of all who serve you, from both peoples, Israeli and Palestinian alike.
May political leaders be ready to dedicate their lives to a just peace for their peoples. Make them courageous enough to sign a treaty of peace that puts an end to the occupation imposed by one people on another, granting freedom to Palestinians, giving security to Israelis and freeing all from fear.
Free the land from the sin of hatred and killing. Free Israelis and Palestinians from this sin. Give liberation to the people of Gaza who live under unending trials and threats. We pray also for the refugees scattered across the world because of this conflict.
Heavenly Father, we believe that your goodness will prevail over the evils of war and hatred.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who liberates us from the bondage of sin and death.