Monday, September 9, 2013

Pastoral Prayer: Syria, Slavery, Improbable Plowshares, and a Whole Lot More..

A prayer written and spoken as a part of the worship liturgy yesterday at Westminster Presbyterian Church:

God of justice and peace, in the very beginning your spirit hovered over the waters of chaos and confusion and birthed a world you called good. Animals of every kind, trees and fruit of every kind, and humanity crafted in your image to steward over all you made and the sacred balance and rhythm you wove through it all.

All was peacefully made and all was to peacefully exist.

Yet your people quickly resorted to violence and vengeance, lusting for power and privilege.

Your world was steadily subjected to conflict and turmoil, victimized by misplaced allegiances.

The creation you made as good and right ripped away from your dreams and divine intentions.

And this is the world we still live in and long to be set free from...

We ache for your Spirit to hover over the waters yet again of this chaotic world where children cannot find their daily bread, women are bought and sold into slavery, even at the youngest of ages, minorities are treated as objectified props and sex is illustrated at cable award ceremonies as means for acquiring and wielding power, healthcare is a privilege reserved for the wealthy, and where many cannot find something as simple as clean water to quench their thirst. We plea, O Holy Spirit, birth fresh expressions of your justice and promise for all to be new and right again.

Jesus, the one who taught us, "blessed are the peacemakers," we confess we are unsure how to practice and pursue your peace when we read about the horrific events in Syria. We lament the reality that our hearts are first drawn to the sword, considering the plowshare foolish and improbable to bring about real and lasting change. We ask for you to invade our imaginations, and those of our religious and political leaders, unveiling a better way, a more peaceable way, a more just and humane way to solve conflict than weapons and war.

Yet we confess we are not sure how, especially in places like Syria.

So we pray for all people who live there. We pray for victims of chemical weapons, political oppression, civil war, and crimes against humanity. We pray for political leaders worldwide, including our own president, who are faced to make tough decisions. We ask for your justice and peace to reign over Syria and for your church in the Middle East to be filled with your Spirit as they practice radical expressions of hospitality, compassion, and heroic and ordinary peacemaking efforts in their communities and countries.

God who is here, there, and everywhere in between, while our news feeds are dominated by foreign affairs, we also are reminded that there are many who also grieve right here in our own community. So while we lift up our neighbors across the globe, we also lift up to you those of this faith community in need of your love and care...

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we give you thanks for the glimpses all around us of your promised future breaking into our real present- even when those glimpses seem faint. We give you thanks for teachers who educate our youth and youth who befriend new students, especially those frightened by first days and new hallways. We give you thanks for your church and the many witnesses of love and generosity that flow in and out of this place. We give you thanks for children and parents, pastors and denominational leaders. We give you thanks for sacred space, like this sanctuary. And we also give you thanks for the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, an invitation to hold on hope for your new creation yet to come, a prayer we say together now….

Amen.

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A growing ist of helpful resources and PCUSA statements regarding Syria can be found at the bottom of this link here

Other Prayers and Links of Interest

Praying for Peace with Pope Francis

Pope Francis' Vigil for Peace Homily

Syria: The Stuff No One Wants to Talk About (Red Letter Christians)

 

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