Prayers for the people

28 April 2008

Prayer of Intercession
Sunday, 27 April, 2008
Bruce Van Voorhis

We ask you today, Lord, for peace in our world addicted to war, a world where we believe that might makes right, where we think that war will resolve our disputes. Gaza, Darfur, Baghdad and Afghanistan are some of our battlefields that have proven these beliefs to be wrong. How many more years, how many more deaths, how many more destroyed lives must the people of these lands endure, Lord, before we no longer rush to war to pick winners and losers that merely plant the seeds of the next war?

We ask you today, Lord, for respect for those who are different than us in our world that constantly creates walls of separation, a world where we never cease to find ways to divide ourselves by our race, our ethnicity, our nationality, our religion, a world where we regularly strive to find the differences in our identities instead of how much we are alike.

We ask you today, Lord, for sanity in our world that consumes the environment you created to support us, a world where we defile the pristine water and the pure air and call it development.

We ask you today, Lord, for nourishment in our world fighting for food, a world where we can afford to go to the moon but far too many people cannot afford to go to the market, a world where immense wealth can reside next to immense poverty.

In this world of our making, Lord, our world of war, discrimination, environmental degradation and hunger and poverty, we ask you to guide us out of our present state of confusion with its misguided priorities and values. Teach us again, Lord, the lessons of love and compassion that we continue to stubbornly reject.

It is in this spirit that we pray today, Lord, for the Burmese asylum-seekers and others unjustly detained in Malaysia. May they soon know freedom. We pray too for the asylum-seekers detained in Hong Kong and for the asylum-seekers in our midst who have patiently been waiting for years to know their future. Be present in their lives, Lord, and quiet the anxiety that they feel. Give them all good news soon.

It is in the spirit of love and compassion that we pray today, Lord, for China’s farmers who watch their land and livelihood greedily snatched from them by corrupt officials and businessmen. We pray for the success of land reform and the efforts of China’s farmers and the activists who support them to keep their land and preserve their rural way of life.

It is in the spirit of love and compassion that we pray today, Lord, for the elderly and the poor in our community who suffer most from the rising tide of inflation. We pray for assistance for them and for inflation to soon subside in Hong Kong, especially the price of food.

It is in the spirit of love and compassion that we pray today, Lord, as part of the ecumenical prayer cycle for our brothers and sisters in Eritrea and Ethiopia, people who have known too much war and too much poverty. May more dialogue be the path chosen by these two countries to resolve the animosity between them. We especially pray for Aime, our brother from Eritrea. We ask that he will soon be resettled and can begin a new life.

As we remember our own Christian family at Kowloon Union Church today, we give thanks for Tan Chi Kiong’s successful eye surgery. We pray for his speedy recovery and that Mrs. Tan may be free from worry. We give thanks again for the life of Carl Smith. We feel blessed by his presence with us for so many years, for his smile, his laugh, the ever-present twinkle in his eye. His life was a wonderful example of how to live out our faith. We are also thankful today for our new members who have formally become part of our church. May they find Kowloon Union Church to be a source of spiritual nourishment for them, and may their gifts enrich our church community. We give thanks too for the gifts of our African brothers and the joy and spirit of music they share with us. As we prepare for our AGM in a few weeks, we ask for your wisdom and love to guide our deliberations. May we discern your will from that of our own. We ask too that you will be present in the lives of the members of our new council and trustees as they wrestle with the issues before our congregation.

Now in silence we lift up to you the joys and concerns in our hearts (silence). Amen.

03 April 2008

Prayer of Intercession
Sunday, 30 March, 2008

Bruce Van Voorhis

Our concerns today, Lord, are for those who live in fear in today’s war zones, for those who feel the inner pain from the barriers of discrimination and intolerance, for those who struggle to escape poverty and its symptoms of hunger and homelessness, for those whose lives are empty with loneliness.

We thus pray for the people trapped in the wars in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and the conflict in Palestine and Israel, wars and deadly violence that never seem to end. Help us to see ourselves in those we think are our enemies. May our oneness shine through our differences.

We remember the unrest in Tibet and pray for dialogue to replace repression and riots. Comfort those who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods, heal those who have been injured, be present with those confined by prison walls. May your wisdom guide those seeking a peaceful and non-violent resolution of the long-standing issues dividing the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.

We give thanks for the recent elections in Malaysia, Pakistan and Taiwan and their peaceful transfer of power. May the new political leaders work for the common good of their people rather than their own narrow self-interest.

We also pray for the leaders of our nation, China. May they have the courage to embark on genuine political reform to accompany the decades of economic reform, political reform that is democratic, transparent and accountable. We also ask that all the rights of all the people of China be respected by all those who wield power. May corruption that saps the energy of the nation rapidly become a practice of the past.

In our own community of Hong Kong, we need your wisdom and guidance as we discuss and debate how to finance our health care system in the future. We pray also for the sailors who recently died on the Ukrainian tugboat and their loved ones back home as well as for Hong Kong’s sex workers, especially for the families and friends of those who have been murdered in the past few weeks. May all sex workers be able to work without fear, and may our community give them respect instead of view them with contempt for the way they seek to make a living.

On the global ecumenical calendar today, we lift up to you with others around the world the people of Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore. We ask that a deeper understanding and appreciation of life guide their lives and decisions, that the spiritual dimension of life will be as equally valued as the economic dimension.

Among our own Christian community at Kowloon Union Church, we give thanks for the leadership of our ministerial team of the Rev. Kwok Nai-wong, Phyllis Wong and Maggie Mathieson and their variety of talents that they share with us. May we enjoy and nurture our oneness among our diverse Christian family. We pray too for your wisdom and strength to be faithful Christians as your messengers, as your servants and witnesses, in the world. Lastly, we again lift up to you our dear 90-year-old friend Carl Smith in Macau. We pray for your healing hand to touch his life and for strength for his helper Dolly as she attends to him and his needs in the hospital.

We now pause and in silence share with you in prayer, Lord, the joys and anxieties within us (silence). Amen.

Prayer of Intercession
Sunday, 3 February, 2008

Bruce Van Voorhis

We bring before you, Lord, the problems of our world today—our planet’s changing climate, the wars in Darfur, Iraq and Afghanistan, the decades of death and animosity in Palestine and Israel, the ongoing political violence in Kenya and the repression in Burma and countless other countries.

Our problems today, Lord, are signs that we have turned our back on you and have sought to go our own way. We have chosen to create our world, not your world, Lord, but what cruel chaos and confusion we have made!

Today we have an abundance of violence, greed, corruption and indifference but a lack of love, compassion, justice and peace. Can it be that we have too little of the latter because of too much of the former?

In the midst of this suffering world, we give thanks for the gift of your Son and the way of life and values and wisdom he taught us when he walked among us. We pray once again, Lord, for your guidance to lead us back to you that we may build a different world than the one we presently have, a world in which we respect and honor life again, the world that you call us to create rooted in your love and wisdom.

We especially lift up to you today, Lord, those families in mainland China who are struggling to be reunited for the Chinese New Year in the middle of severe snowstorms and other hardships. We pray that they will soon be warm in the company of their loved ones. We also lift up to you today, Lord, those who are cold, homeless and hungry in our community. We particularly remember the asylum-seekers and refugees in our midst and elsewhere in Hong Kong. Bless them all with warm clothes, shelter and food, Lord, and the knowledge that they belong and are cared for.

We also pray today, Lord, for our church community and our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in Ireland and the United Kingdom countries of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Nurture us, Lord, so that we may be your faithful disciples to serve you in making this the world you call us to create. Lead us as we seek new members for our church council in the months ahead. May each of us prayerfully discern the role that we can play in our congregation and the contribution we can make.

We now pause and lift up to you, Lord, in silence the joys and anxieties within us (silence). Amen.