Where do we begin? Every day there’s new crises and the news seems to get more and more serious. Even here at the heart of our Household, we have a week of struggles with flooding waters claiming lives and closing highways and sewer water filling basements and destroying possessions. Driving down the roads here in Dearborn, the curbs are packed with contaminated furniture, well-loved toys, and soggy carpeting just waiting for pick-up to the landfills. But, in the midst of this, there are bright spots as neighbors and friends reach out to help one another. I know of a few members of St John’s, Royal Oak, who have offered to do laundry or provide showers for those in need. This may seem like such a little thing but, to those who are trying to clean up the smelly mess of their basements, this is a most gracious gift. We need to look for other bright spots in the midst of the mess.
But what can we do for the other tragedies on our planet? Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called for a day of prayer for the people of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East in fear of their lives and livelihoods. The Episcopal News Service reported:
Our Presiding Bishop has urged Episcopalians to observe Sunday, August 17, as a day of prayer for those in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East living in fear of their lives, livelihoods, and ways of living and believing.
Her call for prayer is in response to violence in Iraq that has included the slaying of Christians, Yazidis, and other Iraqi religious minorities; the destruction and looting of churches, homes, and places of business; and the displacement of thousands under the threat of death.
“Pray that all God’s children might live in hope of the world of peace for which we were created,” she said.
The following collect, which may be used as part of the Prayers of the People or elsewhere in the liturgy, appears on page 815 of the Book of Common Prayer:
in whose perfect kingdom
no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness,
no strength known but the strength of love:
So mightily spread abroad your Spirit,
That all peoples may be gathered
under the banner of the Prince of Peace,
as children of one Father;
to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever. Amen.
We can certainly pray but, for those stranded on mountaintops in Iraq or those living in fear in Gaza, or those working with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, prayer may seem like putting a band aid on a broken leg. They also need resources and there are many places you can go to help:
Rev. Canon Robert Edmunds, Middle East Partnership Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem – http://www.afedj.org/
Middle East Children’s Alliance – https://www.mecaforpeace.org/
Episcopal Relief and Development – http://www.episcopalrelief.org/press-and-resources/press-releases/2014-press-releases/responding-to-ebola-crisis-in-sierra-leone-and-liberia
Let’s put “hands and feet” to our prayers to make a difference for our brothers and sisters today.
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council