Prayers for Peace
There is much to pray about this week as we read about violence around the world.
Milton Mejia, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, and Mauricio Avilez, a young law student who volunteered in the human rights office of the church there until he was jailed for more than four months last year, both received renewed threats against their lives last Friday. The church there continues to insist that they will stand against the violence of all parties and work for a real and lasting peace. Please pray for their safety, and for the emotional and spiritual well-being of their families. You can find a copy of my letter to President Uribe on their behalf at http://www.pcusa.org/oga/newsstories/death-threats.htm.
In Palestine and Israel, there is a great deal of political turmoil in the wake of Prime Minister Sharon's debilitating illness and the Hamas victory. There two, I urge all Presbyterians to pray this week for visionary leaders on both sides of the conflict to renounce all violence and work for peace. This week, Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick and I have written to Palestinian leaders to make a bold commitment to provide that kind of visionary leadership. You can see a Presbyterian News Service article about our letters at http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/2006/06088.htm. Our call to "pray unceasingly" has never been more important for peace in the Middle East than it is right now.
I now have friends in Pakistan. That means that I can't simply run by reports of increasingly violent protests among Muslims there (regarding the unbelievably inappropriate cartoons published in Denmark) without thinking about my new friends in the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, our PC(USA) mission personnel and their families, and the many Muslims I met there who are as deeply committed as I am to nonviolence and peace. Please pray, today and in the coming days, for all those who are affected by the violence in Pakistan.
I had breakfast last week with Colonel Brenson Bishop of the U.S. Army, who is a chaplain currently serving at the VA Hospital in Louisville, KY. Regardless of our deep differences of opinion about the War in Iraq, hearing stories like the ones that Bren Bishop shared with me about the commitment of both soldiers and their families can move all of us to a shared commitment to pray for peace in that troubled region. Even as we pray for our soldiers, and for those 250 non-Iraqis (like our Christian Peacemaker Teams www.cpt.org brothers) who are currently being held, we must also pray constantly for an end to the daily violence that is affecting countless Iraqis as well.
I spent yesterday on the Gulf Coast in Southern Mississippi. When I was here in late September, the destruction boggled the mind, and signs of hope were very hard to come by. This time, though the task of rebuilding this region will clearly extend years into the future, I was moved by the high level of commitment and organization and the depth of the partnership between the Presbytery of Mississippi and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. I met work groups from Albany, New York and from upstate Wisconsin. I saw God at work through our church. The crisis of lives turned upside by Katrina, Rita and Wilma also demands our prayers.
I may have written to you before that I heard Professor Brian Blount from Princeton talk about prayer at the General Assembly in Richmond. He said that his mother taught him that we don't get down on our knees to pray unless we are ready to get up and go to work for what we've prayed for. In every one of these crises that are on my mind this morning, there are ways for Presbyterians and other people of faith to offer that kind of prayer that leads to action.
I invite you to join me this day, together and on our knees, in prayer for sisters and brothers around the world.