Friday, January 25, 2008

Pray for the world.

I didn’t write these prayers. My best friend did, and I am the friend she mentions.

Pray for New Orleans. Pray for the world. Pray for all who are suffering from violence, war, sickness, and oppression. Pray for the exiled; pray for the forgotten. And pray that you may know how to serve the people God puts in your path.

Pray for all who are where God has sent them, and who know it and rejoice in it. Pray for all who are doing the work of God where they are, unawares. Pray for all who would go where they are sent, if they only knew where, or how. And pray for all of us, that we may do the work of God everywhere we find it, and that we may minister to each other when we’re worn out and exhausted. Pray for the love of the world, and pray in thanksgiving for the love of God, which sustains and feeds us all.

New prayers appear weekly, on Thursdays, at the World in Prayer website. You may also subscribe by e-mail.

***

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them
Whom shall I send?

You've probably heard this wonderful hymn by Dan Schutte.

As I write this, a friend is just about to return home after spending a month helping with the recovery in New Orleans. She would give anything to be able to stay there instead, and is hoping and praying to be able to go back. And I—I am an Episcopalian, whose diocese voted last month to leave the Episcopal Church. Where congregations left, new congregations are springing up, and I wish with all my heart that I could walk away from my secular job in order to serve them.

Sometimes when we pray, we hear...we think we hear...the voice of God.

Some 45,000 people die each month in Congo because the ongoing fighting there has led to rampant disease and food shortages, according to an International Rescue Committee study released this week. The death rate is nearly 60 percent higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. Two days after the study was released, Congo's government signed a peace pact with the armed militias in Eastern Congo.

Whom shall I send to bring light to their darkness? Whom shall I send with succor, with food and medicine, with safety, with peace?

Gaza's only power plant shut down, saying it had run out of fuel because of increasing Israeli restrictions. Israel promised to allow some diesel fuel and medicines into Gaza, but Gaza residents sought their own solution instead, breaking through the Gaza-Egypt border, buying up goods unavailable in Gaza. Thousands--possibly as many a half a million--crossed into Egypt, with one BBC correspondent saying there are so many Palestinians in Rafah that it is almost as if the town has been annexed by Gaza. Supporters of Hamas clashed with Egyptian riot police and hurled insults at Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Whom shall I send, to tell them that I love them all? To bind them together, in times of plenty and times of poverty, to set them free from an inheritance of hatred? Whom shall I send?

There has been a sharp rise in the number of Afghan children forced out of school because of violence, President Hamid Karzai has said. About 300,000 children in the south--where the Taliban-led insurgency is at its strongest--now stay at home, compared to 200,000 a year ago. Yet despite the number staying home out of fear, about six million Afghan children attend school--some six times the number during the years of rule of the Taliban, when girls' education was completely outlawed.

Whom shall I send to cherish the children, to give courage to the parents, to build out of this generation the wisdom of the future? Whom shall I send as teachers, as learners, as friends?

Flood waters continue to force hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes and livelihoods in Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia. Heavy rains are expected to continue at least through February and possibly into April. Authorities say the damage could be worse than catastrophic floods seven years ago, although they expect the death toll to be lower. The Zambezi river now seems to burst its banks with monotonous and terrifying regularity, but most of those displaced returned to their farms, preferring to risk another flood than surrender their dignity and independence.
"Where else can we go?" one Mozambique resident asked a reporter. "This place is our home. It gives us crops and fish. We don't know anywhere else."

Whom shall I send to learn the ways of the waters? To find the rhythm of the seasons, and the nurturing of the land? Whom shall I send to find the homeless? Whom shall I send to rebuild and replace, replant and strive?

Reported rapes have doubled in Kenya since December's disputed elections. Many are gang rapes, carried out by groups of armed men. Almost half the cases at Nairobi Women's Hospital are girls under the age of 18. One case was a two-year-old baby girl. An estimated quarter of a million people have fled their homes to escape the unrest and some 85% of these are women and children. Many of these are in unsafe temporary shelters. Kathleen Cravero, Director of the United Nations Displaced Person's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery said, "Battles are fought on women's bodies as much as on battlefields. It is not so much that women are targeted in some deliberate way but their vulnerability makes them easy targets for anger, for frustration, and for people wanting to cripple or paralyze other segments of the community in which they live."

Whom shall I send to protect the most vulnerable? Whom shall I send to bind up their wounds? Whom shall I send to the angry and insulted? Whom shall I send to bring wholeness to their hearts?

I, the Lord of wind and flame.
I will tend the poor and lame
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save
Finest bread I will provide
till their hearts are satisfied
I will give My life to them.
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Amen.

2 comments:

FranIAm said...

Oh my- I am sitting here weeping. Thank you so much for sharing this and thank you for what you do Kirstin.

This brings to mind a prayer/poem that our pastor read to us at daily liturgy today; written by Sir Francis Drake.


Disturb us, Lord,
when we are too well pleased with ourselves;
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little;
when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.


Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess
we have lost our thirst for the Waters of Life;
having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity;
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.


Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly -
to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery;
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
We ask you push back the horizons of our hopes,
and to push us in the future with strength, courage, hope and love.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Kirstin said...

Yes! That's exactly it.

Thank you, Fran.