In today’s reading, we heard a little of the encounter between Pilate, and Jesus.
So Pilate asked him, "Are you a king, then?"
It was with this last statement, that Pilate began his abdication of responsibility.
Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me."
"And what is truth?" Pilate asked.
Let us come together in prayer,
Lord, just like Pilate, we sometimes abdicate responsibility. Like Pilate, we say ’What is truth?’ and then try to wash our hands of the matter.
While our hearts protest the injustices of the world, our heads sow doubts and connive to convince us that our interference is not required. We want to be like Jesus, but all too often we have more in common with Pilate.
Lord, help us to be true to the Spirit, open our eyes that we might clearly see and accept our responsibilities.
Lord, we pray for refugees. We call them queue jumpers, spies, or terrorists. We call them ’throwers of children into the water’. We say that they will take our jobs, that Australia is too full already, that they should go home, or at least somewhere else - anywhere else.
But, the truth is that they are just like us, except that they are fleeing from danger and destruction. Like us, they seek safety and security, and a future. Like us they love their children, and their children love them.
Let us not be like Pilate, in asking ’what is truth?’ Instead, let us belong to the truth. We pray that we might accept refugees into both our hearts, and our country. We pray that the fear, turmoil and strife they have experienced will be replaced with contentment, stability and love.
Lord, we pray for the victims of War. We call war a ’necessary evil’. We have smart bombs, and smarter weapons. Laser sights, global positioning, and spy satelites. And we declare war not on people but on terrorism.
But, the truth is that our bombs are not smart enough, and nor are our diplomatic efforts. The truth is that despite our smart-technology, people are still killed, and maimed, families are still shattered.
Let us not be like Pilate, in asking ’what is truth?’ Instead, let us belong to the truth. We pray for the end of all war, for the many children who have lost their parents, and their childhood, through the many wars - official or otherwise - that are being fought in our small world. And we pray for the many parents, who have lost their children, their futures. And we pray also for the peacekeepers who seek to lengthen the gaps between wars.
Lord, we pray for the victims of terrorism. We call terrorists mad men, evil fanatics whose evil acts of destruction are unjustified, and inexplicable. We must be alert, but not alarmed. Vigilant and watchful.
But, the truth is that Al Quaeda was more than just Osama Bin Laden, just as the Nazi’s were more than just Hitler. And terrorism has its roots in the evil of hate, which finds it’s breeding ground in injustice and frustration. And while no terrorist act is ever justified, the global imbalances between first and third world conditions do much to perpetuate the environment in which terrorism breeds.
Let us not be like Pilate, in asking ’what is truth?’ Instead, let us belong to the truth. We pray that we might, as a country, take responsibility for creating the sort of new world order, where countries live in equality and prosperity, and where evil can no longer breed terrorism.
Lord, we pray for the victims of crime. We normally think of these as the unlucky home owners in a burglary, or the beaten man at the side of the road, where the police are never there when you need them, but always there when you don’t. We see locking people up as the simple solution to crime.
But, the truth is that while the victims of crime are those who have been beatern, or robbed, or murdered, there are other victims - such as he families of those who perpetrate these crimes. The child who does not see his father for many years, the mother who tries to run the family single-handed. Police, ambulance drivers, doctors, prison officers, everyone who comes into contact with the consequences of crime is also a victim of crime. And, in a sense, the unhappy, unsatisfied, angry, disturbed, criminal is also a victim of crime. And if shutting the convicted person away in a prison cell gives some illusion of justice, it certainly does little to address the real problem, and offers little hope for rehabilitation. And in truth, police are called to handle many dangerous or unpleasant situations, or are required to enforce laws they do not feel are just, or are forced to do nothing, when they would like to intervene.
Let us not be like Pilate, in asking ’what is truth?’ Instead, let us belong to the truth. We pray for the obvious victims of crime. Warm them; calm them; help them to move on from experiences which can destroy their lives. And, we pray for the families split by crime, who struggle daily to keep their lives together. Be their strength.
Also, we pray for those who enforce our laws, police and prison officers. As they risk their lives and face very dangerous situations, guide them as they make decisions on which much hangs in the balance.
Lastly, we ask that you might bring light to the darkness in the heart that tempts our fellow human beings to lie, steal, cheat and murder.
Lord, we pray for our Church. We have specific views about sexuality and the church. We are mindful of issues that affect us, and our faith. We are focused on Your requirements of us, and our commitment to you.
But, the truth is that, with the best intentions, we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. We are often better able to see the speck in others’ eyes rather than our own. We sometimes let our own prejudices guide us rather than the spirit, and to find exceptions to Jesus’ commandment "Love One Another".
Let us not be like Pilate, in asking ’what is truth?’ Instead, let us belong to the truth. We pray for tolerance. Where our faiths are not exactly identical, may we respect each other, and deal lovingly with each other. May we be moved by the spirit, above all else.
We pray that the Uniting Church will be led, at all levels, by You. That Your Will should prevail through each decision, and every process. We pray that all will realize the folly in splitting the Church, and the sense in sustaining it.
And we pray for our small church in Lara. For the congregation; For our Minister; for the many who work hard in the Sunday School; on the Church Council; and in the various groups and committees.
We also take a few moments now, to pray for (insert names)
And many others who are not named, but who are in our hearts.
Jesus said ’Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me’. May we listen to Him and belong to the truth.