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Prayer of Intercession December 2009

January 4, 2010

Kowloon Union Church 

Today, Lord, we find ourselves at a crossroad between the celebration of your Son's birth two days ago and the coming of a New Year in four days, a new year with new hope. May the spirit of Christmas with its warmth and message of peace and joy spill over into the coming year that is upon us. May we carry inside of us during the 12 months of this New Year the inspiration for a new way to live life and relate to each other that Christmas reminds us of each December.

On this second day after Christmas, we again give thanks for the gift you gave us—the gift of yourself in the form of a human being who faced all of the challenges that we experience in this world. During your time with us, you taught us how to live, how to love unconditionally, how to serve with humility. Your words and deeds taught us the values of respect for everyone, love for everyone, compassion for everyone. For you, everyone was equal; everyone was, indeed, a child of God. Peace and justice were the outcome of your actions.

You were a good teacher, Lord, but we have not been good students. You came as the Prince of Peace; but as we enter the New Year, our world is anything but peaceful. Wars engulf the lives of the people of Darfur, Afghanistan and Iraq. Our Muslim, Jewish and Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories for whom we pray today as part of the ecumenical prayer cycle have been waiting for peace to come to their part of the world for more than half a century.

You taught us to heal the sick and care for the poor; but as we enter the New Year, the gap between the rich and the poor is still reflected in a chasm between affluent and impoverished lifestyles even after decades of development. Poor health care, poor education, poor sanitation, characterizes the lives of the poor today.

You taught us to care for and nurture your Creation; but as we enter the new year, our world leaders are afraid to make the difficult decisions to respond to the challenges of climate change because they do not want to impinge on their economic growth, which, left unrestrained for decades, has contributed to today's concern about global warming.

Thus, as we enter the New Year, we return to the teachings of the baby in the manger in Bethlehem. Our hope for the New Year rests in them. We pray for an end to the wars we have waged, for an end to the poverty we have ignored, for an end to the environmental destruction we have caused. To this end, we pray that the spirit of Christmas will be our constant companion in the upcoming 12 months that the light of love of Christmas will shine in our heart during the New Year. With love as the bedrock of our faith, we can face the New Year with hope.

It is thus in the spirit of Christmas and hope for the New Year that we pray for our community of Hong Kong. We pray that the outcome of the current consultation on democratic development will lead to a political system in which one person has one vote.

We also pray today for our country of China. We pray that it also will find the path to democracy and a respect for each person's human rights. We especially remember this Sunday morning activist Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced on Christmas Day to 11 years of imprisonment because he too wanted to live in a democratic China with the rights of everyone protected. His "crime" was that he publicly expressed this aspiration. For this injustice, we pray for justice.

Among our own Christian community, we pray for all those who are ill during this holiday season. We pray as well for a safe return to Hong Kong for those who are traveling this holiday. Lastly, we pray for wisdom to guide each of us as we reflect this week on the contribution we can make to the life and witness of our church in the upcoming year during our Stewardship Sunday next week.

It is with the peace and joy of Christmas in our hearts that we lift these prayers up to you, Lord, for the New Year. In your Son's name, we pray. Amen.

Bruce Van Voorhis

(Bruce Van Voorhis works in Hong Kong for Interfaith Cooperation Forum [ICF], a regional network of young Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and indigenous activists working for justpeace at the grassroots level in South and Southeast Asia. ICF is a joint program of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs [APAY] in Hong Kong where Bruce is based and the Christian Conference of Asia [CCA] located in Chiang Mai, Thailand.)

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