World in Prayer doesn’t post photographs. Ever.
We don’t include photographs with our prayers, because:
- We don’t have the resources or expertise to verify that photos are authentic – unaltered, not staged, genuinely of the place/event they purport to show, really taken by the named photographer.
- News photos are copyrighted. They cannot be reproduced without permission and payment of use fees. We do not want to break copyright laws, nor encourage others to break them by circulating them further.
- Some of our readers have email services or limited internet connections that only allow them to read plain text. Note: If you are unable to view the photos included in these prayers, you can find the originals at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/refugees-migrants-photos_us_56ccb128e4b0928f5a6d742a?section=impact
- Many use or adapt our prayers for worship, and it’s hard to pray a photo out loud in front of a congregation. It’s also costly in terms of paper, and printing, and ink, to print prayers with photos for distribution to a congregation.
But today I am breaking that rule. I am breaking the rule because this week, the Huffington Post published an article showcasing some of the 2015 “Photos of Hope” taken by UNICEF photographers. And ever since seeing those photos, I’ve been unable to pray in any other way. I invite you to pray them with me.
This, O God, is who you are. Filled with joy. Exuberant. Turning the world topsy-turvy with your delight. Inviting all to watch, and cheer, and share, and take their turn in the dance.
Finding hope…bringing hope…BEING hope. Believing in the future, and the now, in the most desolate and barren places.
Making new life. Making life new. Planting and watering and honoring every seed of impending wholeness and improbably possible renewal.
It is knowing that this is what you are like, O God, always ready to forgive and help us start anew, that makes it possible for us – in this season of Lent – to ask forgiveness for all we have done and left undone. For all the ways that we have knowingly, or unknowingly contributed to creating a world where there are millions of migrants forced out of their own countries, millions of refugees fleeing for safety, thousands of street children, millions facing famine and drought, millions more without safe water or shelter or education or medicine. For all the ways we have tolerated intolerance, and fostered hatreds, and promulgated violence. For all the ways we have not cared for the Earth, for one another, for You.
It is knowing that you, O God, are the one who holds us up, who hears our giggles of pleasure, who laughs with us, and loves with us, and cherishes each of us…
It is knowing that you know the incredible inner goodness in each of us, that invites us – in this season of Lent – to ask forgiveness for dismissing our opponents as Other, as Evil. For seeing only the damage done by ISIS and bombers and drug lords and mass shooters and despots, and not seeing the tiny wondering, wonder-filled child who is still hidden, buried, brutalized, deep inside each one of these persons. For not seeing with Your eyes, and longing for these, too, to be made whole.
This is you, too, O God. Tender with love. Drawing one person to another, one family to another, one community to another. Calling us into relationships, into commitments, into creating new life. Reminding us that even the most tentative steps towards peace, even the fragile truce this week in Syria, is akin to the first steps of courtship. Gently, gently, easing into knowing one another better, into finding ways to cling to one another among our differences and vulnerabilities. You, yourself, promising to be faithful, even when we momentarily turn away.
Reaching for the skies. Building a future out of mud and grass, bare toes and friendship, a wobbly swing set and unlimited horizon.
This is the prayer you hold for us, God.
This is the prayer you pray within us.
This is who you are, God.
Make us in your image.