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.
The Dalai Lama, long an advocate of peace and reconciliation among various faith traditions, recently declared that once a person or a group decides to indulge in violence they are no longer being true to their supposed beliefs. He pointed out that the Koran even states that once one commits bloodshed that person can no longer be called a follower of Allah.
Christians need to take a lesson from the Dalai Lama. In a time when so many are promoting divisiveness, here is one spiritual leader who continues to seek reconciliation. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we are called to be “ambassadors of peace and agents of reconciliation.”
There is no room in Christianity for hate speech, xenophobia, and divisive rhetoric. Faithfulness to Christ means we love and accept each other even as we have been loved and accepted. Violence, even in response to violence, is not part of the Gospel.
Faithfulness to Christ demands more. The faithful Christian response to terrorism is love. The faithful Christian response to terrorism is forgiveness. Anything less, as the Dalai Lama would say, is to be untrue to what we proclaim we believe.
O Lord, We know that you are the great Creator, and that everything lovely and beautiful in this world has come from you. We praise your mighty name for the amazing works you have done on behalf. We come humbly to you, Father, and ask your forgiveness for our having spoiled the beauty and purity of your creation. For we know that our sins, and ours alone, have polluted and corrupted you world. Help us to repent of our sinful ways and to work to restore your world to its original glory. And yet, let us never worship your creation, but only you, the marvelous Creator and genius of the universe. Amen
[taken from for they shall be fed, edited by Ronald J. Sider]
Gracious and most compassionate Creator, we come to you this morning looking back at the year we are completing even as we are straining forward toward the year to come. We recognize that we have been richly blessed this year. We have been given so much. Your grace and goodness toward us is far greater than we can comprehend.
We offer our humble thanksgiving for all the gifts we have received this past year. And at the same time, we ask your forgiveness for our stubborn and willful disobedience to your perfect will for our lives. Forgive us for every missed opportunity to share your love and grace with those most in need.
As we look forward to 2015 we would pray that we might be fully open to your Holy Spirit. Lead us, guide us toward new avenues of service. Empower each us us through your Spirit to reach out to the poor, the hungry, and the powerless in your name. Help us to be givers of your grace and mercy in every situation, and especially help us to be peacemakers in times of confusion and conflict. Let us never cease striving for justice.
Let your love and compassion for those most in need be reflected in our every action, and not just in our words. And in all things help us remember that we can truly do all things through your power. Help us be unafraid to face this new year with a spirit of love and power as we continue to praise you through our every thought, word and deed.
God of grace and God of glory, we pause this morning to offer you praise and thanks for the truly awesome creation we call home. We cannot begin to fathom love so deep that you would send you only son to make sure we remained in a perfect relationship with you. Thank you for such love. Thank you for such mercy. Thank you for such grace. Help us to live in that love, Help us to walk in that mercy. And help us to share that grace with all those we meet.
Let each moment of our lives reflect to those around us the same love you have given so freely to us. May every day of our lives bring us ever closer to you. And may those in greatest need, those who feel most alone, those whose hunger is the deepest, those who are most oppressed, those who have nowhere left to run or nowhere left to hide, those who you loved enough to allow your son to die for, may each one of them feel your presence in a special way this morning.
And may your presence so move us this morning that we would seek out those we know are in need. Allow us to be your love incarnate to bathe the dirty, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless, and above all, forgive us our indifference and lack of compassion, and grant us the grace to simply be your disciples in a broken world. In your son’s name, Amen.
Last week, my daughter, Amy, lost her battle with breast cancer. For those who loved her, our lives have changed forever. Faith in the grace and loving kindness of a merciful God sustains us, but there is now an emptiness that defies description.
Amy’s struggle is over and she is at rest. Her victory is won. But, for her family, nothing will ever be the same. We were close and loving, yet we all now regret not expressing our love for her more often.
Last night I came across some words of wisdom that’s worth repeating. I wish I knew the author.
In the blink of an eye, everything can change. So forgive often and love with all your heart. You may never know when you may not have that chance again.