Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering. – Parker Palmer
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2
“Do not be afraid,” the messenger from God said to Mary. “Do not be afraid,” the messenger from God said to Joseph. And time after time throughout the scriptures, the message of God to God’s people has been the same – “Do not be afraid”…and yet we are. We look around us at this world in upheaval and we are afraid – of weather and war, of terrorists and refugees, of everything and everyone unfamiliar to us, convincing ourselves and each other that if only we keep “them” out, if only we fight harder or make war more diligently or create ever more deadly weapons, we will be safe.
Oh God of Love and Hope and Healing, how much you must despair when we, your children, behave as if we had never heard your words of truth and comfort: Do not be afraid. And so we come to you, the Source, the Hope, the Love, the Truth, falling to our knees, even as we pray for your children – our sisters and brothers in so many places.
Out of our fear-stained hope, we pray for those killed in suicide bombings this week in Paris, France, in Nigeria, and in Baghdad, Iraq.
Out of our fear-seared hope, we pray for those at the mercy of recent atrocities in Syria, Palestine and Israel; in the Central African Republic; in Pakistan and Myanmar and inner-city America; and in other places too numerous to name.
Out of our fear-marked hope, we pray for those affected by the recent earthquakes in Japan and Kansas in the United States.
Out of our tear-stained hope, we pray for open hearts and minds and doors and arms, that all those who have had to leave the homelands they love might find welcome and hospitality and loving care in far-away places, with people they do not know, but who will love them in your name and for your sake.
God of Love and Hope and Healing, in our fear we turn to you. Open our ears to hear your words of truth and comfort: Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
And so, as the days shorten, as the darkness surrounds us and Fear threatens to keep us in its thrall, we pray, Gracious God, that your light might surround and fill us and all your children, in every corner of the globe, creating within each of us a space of welcome and acceptance and hope. Amen and amen.
The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. Let the quietness of God’s peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. – A New Zealand Prayer Book