What if God was listening?
In Lutheran churches last Sunday, we prayed that we would honor creation. We also prayed for our secular leaders to work for the good of all, including immigrants, refugees, prisoners and those without voice.
What if God was listening?
Each week, we sing the Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy) in the Lutheran liturgy. The word "peace” prevails.
For the peace of the whole world….
In Haiti, one year after an earthquake which killed nearly 250,000 people and injured 300,000, cholera has claimed another 3,750 lives.
One million children, women and men still live in tent cities where walking to the toilet at night can be dangerous. In these camps, young girls and women are at serious risk of sexual attacks.
In Haiti, there is no peace amid these conditions.
For the peace from above and for our salvation….
The Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist "Christian” group from Kansas, announced it would hold a demonstration at the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Green who was among the six murdered in a shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz.
The group backed down after a radio talk show agreed to give the group airtime.
The tragedy left Gabrielle Giffords, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who was conducting a "Congress on your corner” community event, in critical condition. The group regularly pickets the funerals of members of the U.S. military, carrying banners saying "Thank God for AIDS” and "Pray for More Dead Kids.”
They do this in the name of religion.
For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the church of God, and for the unity of all….
"I know it might not be safe, yet it's either we live together, or we die together, we are all Egyptians," Cherine Mohamed, a 50-year-old Egyptian housewife said on January 7, according to the Washington Post.
These words became a slogan for Egyptian Muslims who, following New Year's Eve violence targeting Christians (25 killed,80 injured), attended Christmas Masses with their Coptic Christian neighbors, shielding them against further potential acts of extremist violence. (Coptic Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar celebrating Christmas on January 6.)
Praying for peace in the world can be dangerous. Can each of us take one small courageous step?
For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise….
"Millions of people do feel that the church provides an answer to the deep confusion that encompasses their lives," said Martin Luther King Jr. according to "I Have a Dream": The quotations of Martin Luther King Jr. "It is still the one familiar landmark where the weary traveler by midnight comes. It is the one which stands where it has always stood, the house to which the man traveling at midnight either comes or refuses to come. Some decide not to come. But many who come and knock are desperately seeking a little bread to tide them over. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic right, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.”
The words and life of King, whose birthday we remember this week, remind us that the church, your church and mine, is to be a refuge and a witness for peace.
Keep praying. God is listening.
Fern Lee Hagedorn is a writer, filmmaker, and advocate of the Bible for the post-literate; she spearheaded a project to translate the Scriptures into new media.