"Your love and care help us to continue to hope and stay strong"
(LWI) - Christians of many denominations and convictions came together online on March 22 for a global prayer service, witnessing to the power of prayer that inspires and gives hope in the midst of conflict and suffering.
"We come together in the season of Lent to lament the violence and destruction in the many wars worldwide," said Rev. Dr Hanns Lessing from the World Communion of Reformed Churches. "United in prayer, we pray for strength to witness God’s peace, which we know is already here among us, even if the world fails to embrace it."
Rev. Yulia Starodubet, from the Methodist Church of Ukraine, shared a message of hope while also describing the emotions the people of Ukraine have experienced since Russia invaded the country just over a year ago: anger, sadness, depression. We are grateful for the persistent prayers and encouragement of the global society, she added. “Your love and care help us to continue to hope and to stay strong.”
“Let us thirst for the right actions that will achieve peace. Help us, O, God, to be people of mercy, who work for peace,” said Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts from the World Council of Churches.
"In the Beatitudes, Jesus states that 'Blessed are the peacemakers,'" reminded the Rev. Arni Danielsson from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), who shared key Biblical passages about peace and hope in the face of adversity.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
– Jeremiah 29:11, NRSV
"Broken is the best term we can find to describe our world right now," said Rev. César García, General Secretary of the Mennonite World Conference, mentioning specifically the invasion of Ukraine, violence in Palestine, military exercises on the Korean Peninsula, and the fragile situation in Ethiopia as examples of war and conflict across the world. But, he said, God can repair that which is broken. "May God use our global church as a means towards restoration and reconstitution in the midst of so many afflictions."
God, strengthen, comfort, and protect the people who are threatened by war. Establish a just peace, O God, not any peace, but a just peace.
– Katerina Pekridou, from the Conference of European Churches
The prayer service concluded with a blessing and prayer for hope, shared by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner from the United Methodist Church in Germany. Quoting the poem "Rough Translations" by Jan Richardson, she prayed for:
"Hope that makes a way where there is none.
Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come."
The service was jointly organized by the LWF, The Baptist World Alliance, The Mennonite World Conference, the World Methodist Council, the Conference of European Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.