TUESDAY THE SEVENTH OF FEBRUARY, 2017
For a world where lies are accepted at face value;
hear our prayer, God of truth.
For a world where racism in high places is tolerated;
hear our prayer, God of the oppressed.
For a world where people with disabilities are mocked;
hear our prayer, God of the disadvantaged.
For a world where the rich hold the reins of power;
hear our prayer, God of the poor.
For a world where men violate women with impunity;
hear our prayer, God of the downtrodden.
For a world where the earth is ignored and neglected;
hear our prayer, God of the voiceless.
For a world where nations interfere in enemies’ elections;
hear our prayer, God of the disenfranchised.
For a world where the church is charmed by false gods;
hear our prayer, God of the lost.
For a world where free speech is threatened;
hear our prayer, God of the silenced.
For a world where hatred is growing by leaps and bounds;
hear our prayer, God of the vulnerable.
For a world where dissent is dangerous and necessary,
hear our prayer, God of those who suffer for righteousness’ sake.
God of hope, we turn to you for vision and courage
as we strive to be faithful in word and deed,
followers of Christ in times like these. Amen.
( Carol Penner )
PSALM THIRTY-EIGHT ( abridged )
Make haste to help me,
O Lord of my salvation.
Rebuke me not, O Lord, in your anger,
neither chasten me in your heavy displeasure.
For your arrows have stuck fast in me
and your hand presses hard upon me.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
their weight is a burden too heavy to bear.
I am utterly bowed down and brought very low;
I go about mourning all the day long.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I roar aloud because of the disquiet of my heart.
Those who seek after my life lay snares for me;
and those who would harm me whisper evil
and mutter slander all the day long.
But I am like one who is deaf and hears not,
like one that is dumb, who does not open his mouth.
I have become like one who does not hear
and from whose mouth comes no retort.
For in you, Lord, have I put my trust;
you will answer me, O Lord my God.
Forsake me not, O Lord;
be not far from me, O my God.
Make haste to help me,
O Lord of my salvation.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Make haste to help me,
O Lord of my salvation.
Almighty Lord and Saviour,
behold with pity the wounds of your people;
do not forsake us, sinful as we are,
but for the sake of the passion of your
beloved one, Jesus,
come quickly to our aid,
for his mercy's sake. Amen.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara: the Red Bishop
Born on the seventh of February, 1909, in Fortazela, Brazil, Dom Hélder Câmara became a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church and one of the twentieth century’s great practitioners of non-violence.
As a young priest, he ministered to the very poor people of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. With other clerics, he encouraged peasants to think beyond their conventionally fatalistic outlook by studying the gospels in small groups and asking what conclusions could be drawn for social change. In 1959 he founded Banco da Providência in Rio de Janeiro, a philanthropic organisation to fight poverty and social injustice by making it easier for poor people to receive loans.
He was appointed bishop of the diocese of Olinda and Recife from 1964 to 1985, during a period when the country had a series of military rulers. Under his guidance the Roman Catholic church in Brazil became an outspoken critic of the 1964 to 1985 military dictatorship and a powerful movement for social change. He was one of the architects of the Medellin statement in which the Roman Catholic Bishops of South America denounced the "institutionalised violence" inherent in social inequality and oppressive social structures. It proclaimed the “option for the poor”, whereby the church should stand with the most oppressed in their daily struggles.
Military leaders often accused him of politicising the church's charitable work, which led him to coin a phrase for which he has become famous: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."
He was labeled “the Red Bishop.” He worked tirelessly for democracy and human rights in Brazil, even as he watched friends and fellow priests imprisoned, tortured, and killed.
Dom Hélder retired as archbishop in 1985, the same year that the military relinquished power. With democracy restored, Pope John Paul II, no fan of Câmara's programmes or theology, began replacing Brazil’s bishops with more conservative leaders. In his twilight years, Câmara remained silent, and never criticised the Pope. He died at age ninety in 1999.
Scripture. In "Psalm Thirty-Seven", verses five and six, we read:
"Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday."
... for peace in the world.
... for the poor and the oppressed.
... for an end to dictatorships and military rule.
... for clergy who stand up against injustice even if it means risking their life.
... for the thirteen thousand people executed by the Syrian regime at Saydnaya prison between September 2011 and December 2015. DETAILS
... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
From "The Degradation of the World and the Renovation of the Earth" by Dom Hélder Câmara:
At first sight, the situation of this world suggests despair. For Christians, however, the last word is always hope.
Despite everything, we have no use for a misleading or alienating hope that looks only to eternal life as though eternity didn’t start here and now, because it is here and now that we build an eternal life.
Regardless of our race, religion, nation, or professional setting, if each one of us looks around, we will discover that along with the prudent and conformist bulk of society, and along with that elite minority which is a embarrassment for its own class, there is another minority that is willing to work, even sacrifice, for a more just and human world. Would it not be possible for us to find the way (in each tiny community, then each neighbourhood, each province, each nation and each continent in all the world) to unite all those minorities until they number in the thousands upon thousands? Would it not be possible for these minorities to agree upon three or four concrete points, which demand immediate action?
The first and very important point would be to start with each of us asking ourselves whether or not we are at peace with justice or whether we are committing injustices. After all, it is not enough to contemplate human misery and ask for charity; we must achieve justice as a condition for peace. Then let us begin by confronting local injustices together with neighbours and friends who are people of good will. No one confronts global injustices who does not start by facing the injustices in their own community.
Another indispensable step would be this: whoever has faith and is linked to a particular religion should frequent their religious group. Then, in union with brothers and sisters of good will, demand of your religious group that it never separate the love of neighbour from love of God; demand that it speak out against all those injustices that should never exist among brothers and sisters who are children of the same heavenly Father.
Sometimes, when a person demands justice in the name of his or her faith, it is all too easy to paint that person as a rebel or communist. But on that day when we all demand of that our religious groups that they denounce injustice and work strenuously to make the world a more life-giving place for all (literally: breathable), those who labeled every defender of justice a communist are simply going to look ridiculous.
Let’s take the case of Italy. Imagine what would happen if the thousands upon thousands of young people who marched to Florence, all the while thinking about the injustices of this world, would not stop marching but would continue, vigilant and demanding, at home, at school, at work, at church, refusing to settle for band-aid solutions, but instead would demand justice as a condition of peace.
Still, in order for all of us to actually move from theory to practice and not settle for good intentions, in order to finally start the reformation of the structures that we have talked so much about, we need more. Inside of us, around us, as a positive portent and sign of the deep changes that we must achieve at the national, continental, and then global level we need even more than the force of an idea. We need a touch of grace, an impulse from on high.
Perhaps that impulse from on high, that touch of grace, will be the coming to life of Christ’s word: “Wherever two or three of you gather together in my name, there will I be among you.”
And we not just two or three; we are thousands upon thousands. Maybe some, or maybe many of you, think that you don’t have any religion or faith. The truth is, we are and we will be with Christ even though we don’t know it, and even though we seem not to want it. For he will be with us, to the degree that our hunger and thirst for justice, truth, and love is honest.
Let them laugh who will. Goliath once laughed at the young David.
For God, who is love, will not let selfishness, ambition, and hatred, dominate the earth forever.
Holy God, you give us prophets to cry out for justice and to defend the poor. As we remember the life and witness of Dom Hélder Câmara, help us to hear the truth he told, lest we support injustice to secure our own well-being. And help us, in our own day to work for a society in which we might catch glimpses of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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