Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31
God of each one of us and God of every one of our neighbors, near and far, we lift our hearts in prayer to You:
We thank You for the freedom to vote that many of us take for granted and not all of us are afforded. May we exercise our right and our moral duty to take the steps that we can, when and where we are able, and the courage to fight for this right where needed.
We are grateful for the Midterm Elections in the United States, which took small steps toward recognizing the humanity and dignity of our neighbors, including formerly incarcerated felons being granted the right to vote again in Florida and transgender rights being upheld in Massachusetts. We are grateful for more representative expressions of the people of the United States in many of its newly elected officials, including over 100 women in the House, two Native American women and a female Somali refugee for US Congress, and an openly gay Governor. May all elected officials around the globe be guided by Your love and seek the common good for Your people.
We pray for the 10 arrested on the island of Zanzibar, Africa for conducting a same-sex wedding. We recognize that there are still countries that not only outlaw same-sex marriage, but punish homosexuality with the death penalty. May all of our neighbors around the globe one day be able to live their truths authentically without fear of repercussions.
We are grateful for the lives of the 78 kidnapped schoolchildren and 3 others who were just freed in Cameroon, Africa. We pray that You might comfort them and their families after this traumatic experience. We also fervently pray for the hundreds of Chibok schoolgirls who are still missing years after their kidnapping, and all children who are separated from their families and loved ones. May there come a day when all of our neighbors are safe in their schools, on their streets, and in their homes.
We pray for all those affected by the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, USA on Wednesday night, where 13 were killed, including a first responder and the gunman. As details are still unfolding, we pray that we may be moved to grieve with the loved ones of those who died and, as hard as it is, also the shooter, rather than harden our hearts to another mass shooting. May we work together to establish laws and systems that protect all of our neighbors from these kinds of tragedies that are becoming more and more commonplace.
We pray all in Hodeidah, Yemen, where the calls for a cease fire in a three-year war have instead resulted in horrific violence. Violence in Yemen has become normalized and the chief of Houthi rebels has said he will “never surrender” as this humanitarian crisis deepens. May all of our neighbors around the globe know what it is to experience peace and safety.
We pray too for Remembrance this Sunday 11th September and especially for the centenary that marks the end of World War One. We think of all the many men and women who lost their lives and gave their service in all wars in the last hundred years. May we honor their courage and cherish their memory and be thankful for their dedication to protect their country in a bid to ensure peace in our world.
May we love You, O God, so fiercely that we become the change that brings about a ripple effect of love for our neighbor. May we constantly hold onto hope as we work together to bring kindness, mercy, and justice to all areas of our world.
We pray all of these things in your many, Holy names. Amen.