This morning, as I was reading the world news reports, I was deeply saddened by what has been unfolding in Afghanistan and by the destruction and loss of life in Haiti. We are fortunate that we live in a part of the world where we do not have to experience such events. We are so removed from these types of experiences, that sometimes it is too easy for us to disengage from what we are called to do as baptized Christians. We can choose to not watch the news and we can escape to the comforts that we enjoy, and which distract us.
Frequently, we focus our attention elsewhere because we do not know what to think or how to respond. The image from the Kabul airport, of crowds of people desperate to escape, clinging to the outside of a departing military aircraft, is not something of which we can comprehend the depth of their fear and despair. We may have a sense of the deep anxiety that the women and girls are feeling, but we can never fully understand what they are experiencing emotionally or what could happen to them under this new regime. The same is true about the sudden loss of life and the destruction that the people of Haiti are now experiencing. The depth of their pain and loss is much greater than what many of us have experienced or will ever experience in our lifetime.
When we don’t know what to do, say, or feel that is usually an indication that we should be turning to God. We turn to God not only in prayer for the people of Afghanistan and Haiti, but we turn to God in prayer for all the people of the world, including ourselves. We ask, not only that God comfort and keep the people of Afghanistan and Haiti safe, but we also ask that God would turn the hearts and minds of everyone to reflect God’s love that we know through the life of Jesus. Yes, through prayer our hearts and minds are also turned, and we can be led by God to respond in ways that we never thought of before.
Yesterday, during our worship service, I amended two preprinted prayer petitions from our bulletin to include Haiti and Afghanistan. Everyone who gathered responded “hear our prayer.” We know that God hears our prayers, but we pray those words in faith. Below are the two petitions for you to use in your daily prayers this week. Add the words that come from your hearts, through your faith, for the people of Haiti, Afghanistan, and the world.
- God of creation, mend the earth. Cool warming oceans and preserve melting ice caps. Increase our awareness of changing climate patterns and reveal new approaches to the ecological challenges we face. Shield those in the path of hurricanes or tropical storms (especially). God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
- God of all nations, direct our leaders. Grant them courage to lay aside political grudges and renew their determination to address difficult conflicts. Guide them in the work of reconciliation. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
In about a month, Canada will have a federal election. This election is an opportunity for you to exercise your faith. During the campaign, we should pray for all the candidates. Then, as you prepare to mark your ballot, pray that the Holy Spirit is guiding you to choose the person who best speaks to the love and vision that God has shown us through Christ.