“The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.” – Jimmy Carter
Oh, Lord, you shepherd us. You follow us. You lead us through the fog of our times. We get caught up in fear and weighed down by seemingly eternal prejudices. As we enter this Lenten season relieve us of these burdens. Restore us.
We call upon you to open our minds to the alarming calamity of war, its evil nature that sets and divides and drains. Shake loose our compassion. Help us to understand the power of bearing witness in these times, with the wars in Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, South Sudan, and Syria devastating those nations and their peoples.
We witness the natural disasters compounded by social and political upheaval. It becomes crisis within crisis within crisis. We mourn for the peoples of Syria and Turkey, as they deal with the terrible aftermath of the earthquakes there.
We mourn for those “captive” in detention centers, in decades-old refugee camps; those with no homeland and those exiled. Cloak the forgotten; those left behind; the black, brown, poor white sitting in prison; those crushed at borders neither here nor there.
Wake us up to the wanton neglect of our role, our covenant, as neighbors and as stewards on this planet. We hear of the 2 million refugees from Ukraine now in Poland, of the 1 million taken in by Germany.
We hear of Moldova’s pro-Russia protests. While Turkey suffers a second round of earthquakes, it seems to hold the cards on NATO entry for Sweden. The world is mixing up and literally splitting apart. We pray for the families who have fled Syria to now return their dead back home with tears and embraces. Lord, have mercy.
We pray for a ceasefire in Ukraine. We ask for leaders to agree on measures to build trust and to begin a peace process, though it seems to be going in the other direction with Russia backing out of nuclear treaties. It’s never too soon to pray for peace, to seek justice and peace. Help us to trust that our humane undertakings can spread and dissolve hatred.
We know war in one place affects us all. We ask that leaders find a way for international disarmament treaties to be renewed. Help us to understand that Russia needs help to transition to climate-friendly energy industries as well as Europe, the U.S. and China. War is not green; it is grey, bloody, and cold.
Nootka Island, British Columbia, Canada and its people of the sovereign Mowachaht/Muchalaht Nation are calling for salmon parks, which could be a visionary way to restore and repair forests by using management practices that avoid clear cutting. Call us, O Lord, to reckon with our extraction mindset, our plundering and destruction of streams to sea, of steep slopes left to slide and create further ruin and destruction.
Help us to see our neighbor: the one parking their car next to us in the shopping mall; a classroom acquaintance we have never really given a “hello”; a tentative visitor at our church; the homeless man at the corner; the Girl Scout selling cookies at our door. Dear ones, do we see you? “What do you like about scouting?” “Tell me, where are your people from?” “What is your favorite class so far?” “Can I help you with that shopping cart?” “Do you need a hug?” “Can I give you a hug?”
Let us stand in “the bond of our common humanity” and in the voice from Psalm 130 sing, shout, softly whisper: “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!”
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