From time to time, situations that cry out for a prayer for peace arise in countries or communities. While our services are designed several weeks in advance, each service has a place in the Prayers of the People where current concerns can be lifted up. As we become aware of such concerns, we will list them here with the background information available as well as a prayer paragraph that can be included in the Prayers of the People.
The following was shared by Steve Graffeo, Human Resource Ministries director, when he presided at the Good Shepherd Congregation in Kansas City, Missouri, where he presided over worship on December 16, 2012. He also shared this at a meeting with directors at Community of Christ International Headquarters on December 17.
This past week, the World Church Leadership Council met in meetings at the Temple. We began each day, as we always do, with a worship in the Meditation Chapel. On our final day, Thursday, the manger scene was centered among us as we sat around it in a circle.
Each day, we had focused on one of the senses: seeing, hearing, smelling… Thursday was touching.
We were surprised at the end of the worship to have a woman carrying a 10-month-old baby appear among us. The mother held the baby, wrapped in a soft blanket, leaving the baby’s shoulders and feet free for us to touch as the mother and child made their way around the room slowly. We touched the child’s feet and hands as the baby, without a peep, passed before us staring at the strangers around the room.
It was a wonderful moment. How better to bring the manger scene and the Christmas story alive, then to be able to touch the child? I left the worship that morning with a wonderful feeling and I had truly been ministered to.
Then came Friday morning and the senseless and incomprehensible tragedy in the elementary school in Newton, Connecticut. What an opposite extreme and total contradictory moment.
We are part of the extended caring and loving community that surrounds this tragedy. We are prayerful for strength and peace for those directly affected; and we now wonder how to never have this happen again.
We need to touch our children’s feet and hands and hug them often.
May we pause at this time for a few moments of silence for the victims and family’s affected by this event.
God is among us!
Sometimes, God, we wonder what we can do to help because the situation seems so far away or so complex. Darfur is one of those situations. There have been so many deaths, so many people displaced, so much distrust between peoples. We would pray for all--those seen as victims as well as those seen as perpetrators, for in their conflict, all become victims. Grant wisdom to those seeking ways of healing for the country's people and its environment.
It is easy to sit back and say "We should have done this..." or "We shouldn't have done that," God, but once events have been set in motion, you call us to also accept responsibility for the consequences. Even when we do things with the best of motives, we acknowledge that sometimes the results are less than we desired. While there have been positive situations arising in Iraq, we also know that there are still many people who hurt, who struggle for safety and for life's essentials. We recognize that there are deep areas of mistrust both within Iraq and between Iraq and the rest of the world. We would hold up the people of Iraq--its leaders, its citizens, its children--that they may find ways of coming together that will bring healing and reconciliation.