15 October 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (140) 15 October 2023,
Week of Prayer for World Peace (1)

The Week of Prayer for World Peace begins today, Sunday 15 October 2023

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and today is the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XIX, 15 October 2023). Later this morning, I hope to be in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford, for the Parish Eucharist.

But, before today begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer and reflection.

The Week of Prayer for World Peace begins today, and so my reflections each morning this week are gathered around this theme in these ways:

1, A reflection on the Week of Prayer for World Peace ;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The Week of Prayer for World Peace began with ‘A Call to Prayer for World Peace’ signed by faith leaders in 1974

A Week of Prayer for World Peace:

‘Where people are praying for peace the cause of peace is strengthened by their very act of prayer, for they are themselves becoming immersed in the spirit of peace.’ wrote George Macleod, founder of the Iona Community.

He was one of a number of faith leaders who in 1974 signed ‘A Call to Prayer for World Peace.’ They wrote, ‘Believing that God is calling us to pray with new purpose and deeper understanding for peace and justice among all people, we invite our fellow believers of all faiths to join in a Week of Prayer for World Peace.’

The call went on to say, ‘Patience will need to be an essential feature of this united act of prayer so that we may all not only learn from the past errors but also be open to fresh insights which the unprecedented modern situation demands.’

Sadly, these words are still pertinent today, in the third decade of the 21st century.

A Prayer Resource for individual and corporate use during the Week has remained a key feature of WPWP. It is presented for use during the Week and throughout the year. The organisers are convinced that there is only one humanity praying to one supreme Creator, with whatever different opinions we may have on what that may be.

They recognise that interfaith partnership does not in itself imply agreement. WPWP invites all people to join in praying for peace on our shared earth under one sky.

The things we agree upon are many and precious. What we disagree on is precious too. We stand alongside all who pray for peace with us as partners and friends.

The overall theme this year is ‘Praying with hope in a troubled world’. The founders described the world of 49 years ago as one ‘in turmoil and increasing violence’. Today that is still true, but we continue to ‘pray with hope’ for the peace that our world is so lacking. We pray with hope not just for a week but for the year.

The annual interfaith gathering of prayer and peace will again this year be a ‘virtual’ one. The organisers are using Zoom and hope that people will be able to join us wherever they are. It is being held today (Sunday 15 October 2023), from 3:30 to 4:30 pm (London time), with music, prayers, storytelling and the presentation of the 2023 Wilson/Hinkes Peace Award. This is an opportunity to join together to pray and witness for peace.

‘Go therefore into the man streets, and invite everyone you find to the … banquet’ (Matthew 22: 9) … preparing for the banquet (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Matthew 22: 1-14 (NRSVA):

22 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.’

‘Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet’ (Matthew 22: 9) … tables on a street corner in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The International Prayer For Peace:

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth
Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust
Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe

Today’s Prayers: A Week of Prayer for World Peace:

Day 1, Leaders: Praying that those in power act for the benefit of all:

For those whose decisions and political ambition can and will affect the cause of peace: Grant them wisdom and courage to do what is right, through Christ Jesus, whose peace transcends our human comprehension. Amen. – Baptist Peace Fellowship

We adore those whose every act of worship is alive with the eternal law of life. Those who are in sight of Mazda Ahura. These are the best and noblest mortals and are the truest leaders of Mankind. – Zoroastrian

Lord we ask that decision makers hear Your voice … Church leaders as they support and comfort people. And Lord we ask for wise actions from global leaders, who have the power not only to start wars, but to stop them … – Extract, ‘A prayer for Ukraine’, World Vision

Gracious God, we pray for all persons suffering from war.
Grant wisdom to world leaders in advancing efforts to world peace; may they not be compromised by self-interest and blind indifference. – Catholic Health Association
O Allah, the Most Merciful and Wise,
We bow before You with hearts and eyes.
In Your infinite grace, we seek guidance today.
For leaders who hold power, we humbly pray.
Grant wisdom to those in authority,
to lead with justice and sincerity.
Illuminate their hearts with compassion’s light,
to govern with fairness, both day and night. Amen. – Islamic

‘Illuminate their hearts with compassion’s light’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s Prayers: USPG Prayer Diary:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘Helpline to women in need.’ This theme is introduced today:

In 2014, the Church in North India (CNI) launched a women’s helpline but the CNI’s Delhi Brotherhood Society (DBS) had been supporting women experiencing abuse for over 20 years prior to establishing this. Since it was created, there has been an increase in the number of cases of abuse and harassment being reported to and resolved by the local council, making legal aid and police protection more accessible.

The helpline now plays a key role in the DBS’s aims to reduce gender-based violence and provide emotional, medical, legal and financial support to women. Running alongside the helpline is a range of activities on the ground. The Women’s Helpline Service holds community meetings, awareness-raising events and celebrations, and provides help with rehabilitation and resettlement, property rights and legal advocacy. Outreach workers and community volunteers trained by the church visit women in person to discuss their cases in more detail. The women - and where necessary, their children and families - are given legal and financial assistance and any other help they might need.

The CNI and the DBS realise that society as a whole needs to be more vigilant in tackling gender-based violence. Towards this end, the church regularly holds meetings and events to raise awareness of gender injustice.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (15 October 2023, Trinity XIX) invites us to pray in these words:

‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’.
Beloved God,
May we treat one another as true equals.
Let us love each other as your Son taught us to.

The Collect:

O God, forasmuch as without you
we are not able to please you;
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit
may in all things direct and rule our hearts;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

Holy and blessed God,
you have fed us with the body and blood of your Son
and filled us with your Holy Spirit:
may we honour you,
not only with our lips
but in lives dedicated to the service
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s Reflection

Continued Tomorrow

Waiting for the banquet … a table on the beach in Platanias, near Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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