The Bishop’s E-pistle: Prayers in This New Year

Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of this world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. — BCP 816

As I went to bed last night, I saw the news of the drone airstrike that killed Iranian Major General Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad and felt a deep pang of dread. Will this action lead to greater violence or greater peace?

My mind did a quick tour through visual images of the last 18-plus years of war: everything from destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen; to the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein; to videos of refugees streaming across the Mediterranean in search of safety; to the park dedicated in memory of my friend’s brother who was killed in Afghanistan; to the taste of the dust of the World Trade Center lingering in the air for months after September 11, 2001.

I call all faithful people in our diocese to join me in prayer for peace.

We pray for justice, for all those affected by violence today, and for all those whose scars from past violence are inflamed by new traumas.

We pray for governments, for elected and religious leaders, and all those who hold authority over the nations of the world.

We pray for the people who are likely to be most directly affected by escalated violence in the Middle East: residents of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Israel. We especially remember women, children, displaced people, religious minorities, and those who are most likely to face hatred and violence.

We pray for the members of our military and their families, who have answered a call to serve, and who may now be facing longer and more dangerous deployments.

We pray for young Americans who do not remember a time when our nation was not at war. May we live to see an age when peace is the norm, and violence an aberration.

It is not lost on me that we are three days away from celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, when three Magi came from the East–likely Persia–to seek the Christ child. I pray that the geographic descendants of the Magi may be blessed with their wisdom and hope.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
       and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For darkness shall cover the earth,
       and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,
       and his glory will appear over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)