Dearly beloved Children of God,
Do you sometimes wake not to prayer, but to dread, fearing what new horror will show up in the news? Afraid even to go to church, after this week’s news of three killed in a mass shooting at an Episcopal church in Alabama, U.S., and two priests shot dead at a church in Mexico. Afraid for your friends and family in war-torn nations. Afraid for those who fled Ukraine for Poland, which initially threw open its doors to eagerly take in refugees, only to become increasingly impatient and uncomfortable with the millions of refugees remaining in the country seemingly indefinitely.
Take heart; let your dread be your prayer, your longing for freedom from fear for all peoples.
Are you near despair over the future of the country you used to and still want to love? The African Union has suspended its participation in the UN-facilitated talks to end the Sudan political crisis, citing lack of transparency and exclusion of important parties from the process. Tigrayan forces in northern Ethiopia say that much of the region remains without access to banking, electricity, or phone service, and have appealed to the European Union to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to live up to the terms of the three-months-old truce. The African Youth Survey 2022, carried out by the South African Ichikowitz Family Foundation, sampled 4,500 youth aged 18-24 in 15 countries, and found that more than 50% in Uganda, Mozambique, Gabon, DR Congo, South Africa, Congo, Angola, Ethiopia, Sudan, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria are likely to consider emigrating in the next few years, citing economic hardship, public safety, and education opportunities as the top reasons. A surge in the price of corn, largely due to the war in Ukraine, is making such Latin American staples as tortillas, tamales and arepas too costly for many, fueling food insecurity in countries from Guatemala to Argentina. In many U.S. states, more and more laws are being introduced that would remove needed protections from the least powerful, and grant increasingly authoritarian power to those already wealthy and already in power. In Texas, U.S., the state Republican party adopted a platform that goes further, endorsing the end of democracy. Saudi Arabia has been confiscating rainbow-colored children’s toys, clothing, and other items in a crackdown on “homosexuality.”
Take heart; let your despair be your prayer, your longing for a secure future for all peoples.
Do you feel lost, powerless, and yet guilty for not doing more to mitigate climate extremes and natural disasters? Heat deaths in Qatar. Flooding in Bangladesh, India and China. Major earthquake in Afghanistan. Government policies that may mean the survival or the destruction of rainforests in Congo and Brazil (these two largest parcels of rainforest in the world are critical carbon sinks and shelter almost half of the world’s species).
Take heart; let your confusion be your prayer, your seeking for direction not just for yourself, but for all humankind.
Would you rather see cute kittens and puppies on the Internet than learn about the news? Do you wish you could rescue every abandoned furry creature, but run out of patience with people who post conspiracy theories and fake news and memes that denigrate other human beings?
Take heart; let your delight in God’s creatures be your prayer, your reminder that there is a common love of life among humankind.
Do you have moments – days – weeks – months – when you think you no longer pray, can no longer pray, don’t even know if you still want to pray?
Take heart; your non-prayer is in itself prayer, is often the deepest possible prayer.
Dearly beloved Children of God,
Take heart, for there is nothing in heaven or earth,
no power, no government, nothing that any human being can do,
that can ever separate you from the love of God.
Take heart, for the One who began a good work in you- in all of us –
long before the world was born,
will carry it through to completion.