Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Prayers for peace in a time of violence

The past month has seen violent attacks occur in locations across the world, many of which have been tied to the Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS or Daesh). 
The most recent act of violence was inflicted on people in the heart of the busy Karrada neighbourhood in Baghdad, Iraq, on the night of Saturday 2 July. A bomb-laden truck entered the neighbourhood and ploughed into a building containing a gym, coffee shop and stores. At least 125 people died in the attack, including 25 children. 
Other recent attacks the Islamic State has recently claimed include a shooting at a cafĂ© in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and on security targets in Yemen. Other violent events in TurkeyJordannorthern Lebanon, the United States and France have also been tied to IS, but have not been claimed by them.
In the face of the terrible violence we continue to see throughout our world – in recent days, in Orlando, USA; Istanbul, Turkey; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Baghdad, Iraq; Syria; Yemen; Jordan; Lebanon; Israel, and Palestine – we cry out with the Psalmist, how long? How long will this cycle of violence continue?
We long for a world of peace with justice, reconciliation and hope. A world where our relationships are built on love, compassion, understanding, and nonviolent resolutions of our conflict.
Most people want to live at peace with their neighbours.
Desmond Tutu, a world leader in advocating for justice and peace, highlights that the powers for good in our world – those who respect each other and desire to live at peace with one another – are greater than those people who would draw us into a spiral of violence and hatred.
“I have heard and seen many examples of the cruelty that we are able to visit on one another during my time… I have also seen incredible forgiveness and compassion… Yes, each of us has the capacity for great evil… But for every act of evil there are a dozen acts of goodness in our world that go unnoticed,” Desmond Tutu writes in his book, Believe.
“It is only because we believe that people should be good that we despair when they are not. Indeed, if people condoned the evil, we would be justified in losing hope. But most of the world does not. We know that we are meant for better.” 
In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
We are following in the footsteps of Jesus whenever we seek to make peace: when we live nonviolently in our personal relationships, and when we actively participate in bringing reconciliation in our local communities; where we seek peaceful and nonviolent solutions to disagreements, and where we refuse to demonise and dehumanise others who are different to ourselves.
Jesus says to us – peacemakers – you are God’s children. 
We pray for peace:
Christ Jesus, 
We pray for peace and courage to resist all those forces that would lead us to hatred and violence. 
We pray for comfort for those who have lost family and friends in the recent killings. 
We pray for all those whose lives have been changed by the trauma of the attacks, and the disruption of their daily lives. 
We pray that we will see and respond to others through your eyes – as people of worth, created in God’s image and deeply loved.
May we be peacemakers with you, bringing hope and light to our world.
In your name, we pray. Amen.
(sourced from reflections by the Uniting Church (South Australia) Moderator Dr Deidre Palmer)