For all those who have fallen victim to hatred and inhumanity, for those loved ones who are left behind to mourn, for the souls of those whose hearts are cold, Lord, hear our prayer. For the children who are being born into this world of conflict and violence, for women and mothers who suffer needlessly, Lord, hear our prayer. For all those who have been forced into unemployment, who long to return to work, for all those who struggle to support their families, Lord, hear our prayer. For the soldiers who are misguided in thinking that their bullets will bring about peace, for those who feel called to conscientiously object to military orders, Lord, hear our prayer. For the children who cry in their beds at night and wonder “what have I done?” For the mothers and fathers who must try to explain the unexplainable, Lord, hear our prayer. For all the children who have died before their time, for the soldiers who allow their uniform to strip them of their humanity, for the healers who are denied the opportunity to use their gifts, Lord, hear our prayer. For the redemption of souls of both victim and perpetrator, for those who commit themselves to the forgiveness of sins, Lord, hear our prayer. AMEN.
I have never called it duty, but I love this quote by Bukowski, my favorite contemporary poet. My entire adult life has been consumed with a burning desire to create a world without hunger. That focus has led me to over 100 countries and more areas of conflict and devastation than I can count, and it has introduced me to an entire world of caring and compassionate people who live to make a difference in the lives of those most in need.
Now, as the flames are starting to burn a little less intensely I am gratified to see that the world has finally realized that ending hunger in our lifetime is a significant priority. I am gratified to see that the United Nations has set a measurable goal of ending hunger by 2030.
Whether I see a hunger-free world or not, the ashes of my life will forever hold the warmth of all those who have given themselves to this grand, glorious and world-changing vision. Thank you, one and all, for caring enough to help end hunger in our lifetime.
I once had the opportunity to spend some time with the president of the West Sahara people. We met in the Sahara desert at a time when his nation was at war to regain the land they were driven from years earlier.
One of the memories I have of that conversation which I’ve never forgotten was hearing that he would not accept the presidency until the laws were changed to allow the president to take part in combat (he had already been wounded several times before being elected), and that the law would also demand that every elected official must serve one month a year in direct operations.
I cannot help thinking that such enlightened thinking might slow down our own elected officials’ casual attitude and easy acceptance of the real bottom line of war.
Most of us would agree that we live in a time of challenge and controversy. Growing violence around the world, terrorism, politicians spewing hatred and unabashed bigotry, a polarization and ever-widening chasm between the obscenely rich and the abysmally poor; it all points to the need for us to demonstrate our true values.
We need men and women of faithfulness to stand up and quietly reflect the values that seem to be getting buried in the ugly rhetoric and political posturing that surround us. Am I the only one thoroughly sick of politicians and presidential candidates grandstanding to the lowest common denominator?
There are times when silence is not golden, but just plain yellow. We now find ourselves in such a time. It is time to stand up for what we believe in our hearts to be right, what we know our faith demands of us. It’s time to demonstrate that love is still far more powerful than hatred.
Most gracious and compassionate God, how thankful I am this morning for the love you pour into Your children’s lives. We are sustained through Your everlasting mercy and your grace. I praise You for Your presence that never leaves nor forsakes us.
Today, we have another gift, the multitude of opportunities to reflect that love and grace You have already shown us. Help us embrace that gift. Help us reach out to those most in need of love and compassion.
Empower us through Your Holy Spirit to be ambassadors of reconciliation. Let us be true peacemakers in a world filled with conflict and violence. Let Your love flow through us that all those around us would feel Your love and acceptance.
Especially, Lord, I would ask that those who are fleeing their homes might know Your strength. Allow them a sense of Your presence that they might have a respite from their fear. And allow us who live in safety to reach out to them with the aid and relief most needed. Grant us all a spirit of hospitality.
Give us more love, Lord.
All of this we ask in the Name of the risen Christ. Amen
Gracious and most merciful Creator, You have graced us beyond comprehension. All that we have, even life itself, is a gift from you. And for all that we have received we give you thanks and praise.
Even as we praise you for the mercy and love you have poured into our lives we recognize that there are those around us that are not so blessed. We are forced to admit that our world is not just, that evil abounds, that violence stalks the poor, and that hunger still kills thousands of our family every day.
Our prayer this morning is that each of us who call ourselves followers of your Son might be guided more completely by his love and compassion. Allow us to be touched by the pain and fear of the poor and hungry. Allow us to sense the anger Jesus felt for those who would abuse the weak.
And throughout this week we would ask that you would guide us to those we might demonstrate compassion and mercy in your name. Fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit that we might bring bring peace where there is conflict and grace where the need is the greatest. Grant us the power to serve you by serving those most in need of your love.