Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land. Tell all Pharaohs to, “let My people go.”
Oh God, our God, and God of every suffering refugee, we join in prayer to ask for the wisdom and the courage to name the pharaohs that make life intolerable for so many people in the world. We recognize that:
- for lack of safety,
- for lack of opportunity,
- for lack of basic life essentials,
- for lack of food,
- for lack of water,
- for lack of political representation,
- for lack of leadership without corruption,
thousands and millions of people are driven to abandon the homes they’ve known. They are driven to risk their own lives. They are even driven to risk the lives of their children.
We pray for the situations in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Eritrea, in Nigeria, in Pakistan, in Somalia, in Iraq, in Sudan, in Bangladesh, and in Gambia, countries that as of this week have produced 90% of the refugees who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea seeking refuge. We have seen the inadequate craft that have carried them. We have seen how overloaded the boats are. We know that thousands have died mainly by drowning in the attempt to escape. We pray for the other places in the world where the local pharaohs make life intolerable and drive people to attempt the indescribable.
When Israel was in Egypt land oppressed so hard they could not stand, you sent Moses to thunder, “Let My people go.”
In some manner we pray you send us to condemn the intolerable, to demand that those who enjoy the titles and the perquisites of leadership stop cynically trying to find narrow advantage in manipulating suffering. We ask that rich nations, especially, use their wealth wisely both to mitigate the problems that create refugees and to provide safe destinations at the end of their awful journeys.
We have seen brutal responses from governments, from individuals, from communities, and sometimes from ourselves. We pray for a larger vision and a larger compassion. We pray that we live in the expectation that we must explain what we were doing when these things happened. We must explain to ourselves and to our children and to theirs as well as to the refugees themselves and their children and theirs.
We pray that we may be able to relate how we were part of the many thousands who have responded with generosity like the Icelanders who have declared a 12,000 household willingness to harbor refugees, like the German government whose declared capacity to house refugees staggers the imagination, like the NGOs and individuals who have ramped up ongoing efforts or creatively initiated new ones.
Thus spoke the Lord, bold Moses said, “Let My people go. If not I’ll smite, your firstborns dead.” We pray for our personal ability and for the world’s ability to understand that how we welcome the strangers, that refugees are forced to become, declares what kind of people we are.
We pray that one way or another we remember the messianic utterance, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” When we vote, when we write checks, when we donate or help collect donations, we pray we remember.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.