“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
God of Advent,
The words of Isaiah come to us spoken over 2,300 years ago. They arrive in Christmas cards and newsletters, during Advent readings and again in Lent. We try to gather our thoughts, the mounting worries, the jumble of words, trying to get it right, trying to make sense of war, manmade famine, senseless acts of violence and wrongdoing. Help us to grow our faith in the words of your prophet Isaiah. The world news does not seem to speak of peace this week, this year or today and yet we listen and offer our prayers.
Hear us then, O Lord, we pray for the peacemakers amongst us who do not call attention to themselves but diligently do your work in the face of brutality. We hear of the ongoing and increasing executions and extra judicial murders of journalists, poets, priests and farm workers in the Philippines by the military. We are incensed by these outrageous acts, by fascism and the sense of being above all law.
Prepare our hearts anew as the judicial process in the US unfolds for Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud charged with building the explosive device used in the 1988 bombing of the Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Comfort families long in grief for the 270 victims. Remind us of the persistence of justice.
We would not hear this news if not for journalists who gather and report the stories. Bring your mercy and compassion as we hear again of journalists targeted and killed in Turkish airstrikes in Syrian Kurdistan and southern Syria. We name Îsam Ebdella, Atef Al Saidi and Îsam Abdallah in our prayers. Comfort their families and the peoples of Syria as they endure war. We groan as war annihilates and its message is the same over and over. Lord in your mercy help us to make peace.
God of compassion and mercy, we witness the message of right action as Kate Brown, the outgoing Governor of Oregon, USA will commute the death sentences of all 17 men on Oregon’s death row, and dismantle Oregon’s death chamber. Lord in your mercy help us to bring an end to the death penalty.[i]
God of vast and unimaginable wonders, we see through the James Web Space Telescope[ii] [iii]images of the Cartwheel Galaxy estimated to be slightly larger than the Milky Way Galaxy. What splendid minds, what stunning technology presents your staggering creation spinning and spilling out over billions of years.
God of all people, we are 8 billion persons on this planet crossing this numerical threshold in mid-November 2022.[iv] December holds the International Day of Persons With Disabilities. We are reminded that 1 billion of us are disabled, mentally and or physically challenged and negotiate a world that is unequal, at times outright opposed and mocking. Settle our conscious minds on our beautiful diversity. Elevate our ability to respect and may we recommit to a world with opportunities of dignity and choice.
God of small things, the bumble bee survives in an unequal world, too. Diminished habitat, pesticides and climate change are endangering our common pollinator as reported this week. God of the salmon, the Native Nations lead the dialogue for stewardship of this endangered species that depends on the Snake River in the US Pacific Northwest. Indigenous leaders are joined by all five Catholic bishops of Washington State, USA who released a statement proclaiming this shared dialogue emphasizing Native leadership and need for a wholistic plan. Lord in your wisdom bring us together in this river of life.
God of our ancestors, we are told of an archeological site in Michigan, USA where flakes of tools indicating the Clovis People followed the herds 13,000 years ago along the margins of glaciers has been confirmed. May such discoveries build our sense of humanity across the ages.
O Lord, abide with us in the little ways, wrapped in the daily comings and goings that are plain, basic and necessary. Give us the will to perform the simple kind acts that by being performed make a difference under these magnificent heavens. Help us to sharpen the spiritual tools, recalibrate our vision of peace and know that your love descends to the streams, the torn fields of war, the hungry mouths and those blinded by greed and hatred. We hear from Isaiah 9:7:
“Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.”