The prayers of the people are prayers of intercession. Not to a disinterested megalomaniac, to be begged or flattered into some theatrical show of intervention, but to a loving, faithful and involved God who intercedes in His creation - through us - every single day.
Think you are just a small cog in a large machine?
Think you can’t make a difference?
Think you are too small to change the world?
You are empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry the Word of God.
You are empowered by the Holy Spirit to mission into enemy territory.
You are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring love and mercy into a world descending into violence, self-indulgence, and idolatry.
Strong words, yet I stand by them.
Today’s prayers of the people are responsive. Not by the mechanical repetition of words or a phrase at predetermined intervals, but through your own prayers, and your own actions – at home, at work, in all aspects of your life.
Let us pray.
We have all enjoyed the air show this week, admiring the roar of the jets and the skill of the pilots. We give thanks for the opportunity to watch this spectacle in safety and comfort, for the pleasure and entertainment that it has provided and for the boost to our local economy that the airshow has brought.
Yet, we take this opportunity to reflect, Lord, on the reality behind the fantasy, on the cruelty behind the joy. While we take delight in these miracles of technology, there are others in the world for whom they bring only fear and death. For every young boy watching in awe in Australia, there are many other children in other countries watching in terror as the very same technology tears apart their lives, their homes and their families. We pray for them, and for their safety. As they shake uncontrollably while smart bombs disintegrate their world, we pray that your presence will comfort them.
Jesus did not suggest that we deploy laser guided missiles against out enemies. Yet we do. We pray that we might remember Jesus’ words - ’love our enemies’ - and that we might all individually work to put this into practice rather than just theory, even if we cannot see the results of our actions.
Some of us, Lord, wandered through the defense expo, and were struck by the active marketing of weapons as though they were cars, or televisions. With a target audience of our Army, Air Force, Navy and political leaders, there is a consistent effort to actively encourage the use of modern technology in warfare. We pray for all those who risk their lives in the defense forces, that they might be kept safe, and that they might be kept from being reduced from people to indiscriminate resources. We pray for our political leaders, that they might see the folly of war, and find alternatives to achieve peaceful reconciliation.
Jesus did not talk about engaging the enemy, or of making individual fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers into efficient battle units. Yet we do. We pray that we might remember Jesus’ words - ’Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children.’ We pray that we might all become peace-keepers - in our own way. We would be your children - help us to be strong enough to stay the hand rather than so weak that we would strike with it.
An Australian inventor has patented a gun capable of firing a million rounds per minute. We now talk of firepower in terms of hundreds of times greater than the Hiroshima bombing of World War Two. We have bunker buster bombs to hunt our enemies below ground, and anti-personnel land mines to kill and main those above. Infrared scanning, satellite images, GPS systems all work to cause the maximum damage possible. We pray for those victims of our technologically advanced weaponry. For the many civilians living too close to military targets who are killed or maimed by our military offensives. We pray for the children whose feet or arms are blown off by land mines. We pray for the victims of cluster bombs - which do not explode when expected but lie in wait for unsuspecting women and children.
Jesus did not mention tactics of ’shock and awe’. He did not suggest that we indiscriminately kill innocent men, women and children. Yet we do. We pray that we might remember Jesus’ words - ’Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them’. How merciful are we Lord? How merciful would we have you be to us? We pray for your help in being merciful; that we can put an end to indiscriminant death and destruction; that we can open our hearts and our country to those who are fleeing the violence of war and tyranny rather than closing our eyes and our doors.
We have learnt so sanitize the horrors of war. We use words like ’conflict’ when we mean ’fighting’; ’Friendly fire’ when we mean ’killing our own’; ’Collateral damage’ when we mean killing innocent civilians. And we do not ’try to kill’ the enemy, we engage them. We speak not of the dispossessed or homeless but of ‘displaced persons’. We talk of pre-emptive attacks when we mean ’do unto them BEFORE they do unto us.’ We pray for more truth to be told, for more emotion to be shown, and for the dead or injured to be reported as people rather than statistics. We pray for the recognition of the cruelty of war, for the realization of the futility of war and for an understanding of the real cost of war.
Jesus did not suggest that we should ’get them before they get you.’. He did not encourage the stoning of the guilty. Jesus did not advance a war on terror by striking back. Yet we do. We pray that we might remember Jesus’ words - ’If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too’, or his words ’Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us’, or the words ’Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you’, or the words ’Love your enemies - do good to those who hate you’ or the words ’whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone’. We pray that Jesus’ continual message of love and peace will permeate our hearts, be energized by the Holy Spirit, and foster a new dawn of reconciliation and brother/sisterhood throughout the world.
At the sending out of our services, we often hear those familiar words ’Go in love and peace to serve the Lord’ and we respond ’In the name of Christ, Amen’. Help us to live this commitment.
We pray for change in ourselves, so that we can indeed live in love and peace.
We pray for change in ourselves, so that we can bring love and peace to others.
We pray for the courage and the confidence and the commitment to make a difference in the world.