In the beginning, Lord, there was nothing until you formed the world. You created all living things, made them dependent upon one another for their life and sustenance and blessed your Creation as good. Today, Lord, we are the descendants of your Creation, the custodians of the ecological balance that sustains and nurtures all life, including ours.
As we give thanks for your Creation today, Lord, through our recognition of the annual U.N. World Environment Day last week on June 5, we are reminded that we have not been good stewards of the world you gave to us. Our air is polluted. Our water is polluted. Our soil is polluted. We call it development, Lord, for we have not been satisfied with your development. Our need to dominate life, Lord, instead of respect it has led to skies, water and soil that are toxic, that damage our health, that affect the gift of life you gave us. Moreover, our methods of economic production and our desire to consume things have altered our climate—a change of our global climate that is often threatening the most marginalized members of the human family who are least able to adapt to these changes. The state of our environment today reflects our preoccupation with wealth and status. We have forgotten our role as stewards of your Creation. Guide us, Lord, and restore our respect for life.
In the beginning, Lord, there was justice and peace. Today, Lord, it is difficult to discern justice and peace in our world. The poor lose their homes in Brazil so that large stadiums can be built to host the World Cup for the enjoyment of players and fans and the profits of sponsors. In the Middle East, peace with justice, or justpeace, has become more elusive with the recent decision of the government of Israel to allow Israeli settlers to build homes on land that the Palestinian people view as their territory, as sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis is resurrected in Iraq to the highest deadly levels in years, as the civil war in Syria continues to produce death, destruction and homeless refugees. The holiness that your presence gave to this land more than 2,000 years ago is absent today. Guide us, Lord, with your love and wisdom to the path of justpeace to resolve our violent conflicts.
In the beginning, Lord, there was oneness. Today, Lord, intolerant divisiveness reigns between individuals, between ethnic groups and races, between nations, between religious faiths. Our different identities are creating conflicts, Lord. We are saddened by the continuing violence in Nigeria and pray that the abducted schoolgirls will soon be enjoying the warmth and love of their families. Guide us, Lord, back to the inner oneness we all share in the midst of our external differences so that we can be good neighbors to one another again.
In the beginning, Lord, there was only your power to serve others. Today, Lord, people abuse and misuse power for their own self-interest. We pray that in Hong Kong political reform will result in genuine democracy in which the vote and voice of everyone is equal and that our collective voices will make a better community. We pray for the participation of everyone in the upcoming mock referendum beginning on June 20 to better ascertain the views of the citizens of our city. Guide us, Lord, to share our power and our wisdom with each other so that Hong Kong can be a city more rooted in equality for all rather than the dominance of a few.
In the beginning, Lord, there was your Spirit. On this Pentecost Sunday, we rejoice in your Spirit that dwells in each of us and sets us free. May we find the fire of your Spirit in ourselves, Lord, by being willing to surrender our egos and become your servants in the world, humbly working to transform your world and each other that we have mistreated and abused. Guide us, Lord, back to the source of all love and joy that is your Spirit residing in us.
On this Sunday, Lord, we join our hearts with other Christians around the world to pray for the people and churches of Angola and Mozambique to overcome the centuries of colonialism and the decades of civil war that both nations have endured. We pray that the wealth of these lands will be justly divided so that all people will benefit in order to overcome the poverty that so many people still experience.
At KUC, Lord, we remember the youth of our church today as they prepare for their examinations. We pray that you will bless them with peace to relieve their anxiety in these stressful times and give them the energy they need to earn the successful results they desire. We also ask for your healing power to continue to touch the lives of our senior members and others in our congregation who are facing challenges to their health. We pray that each day will reward them with more strength, more hope and more progress. Lastly, we welcome a new intern to our community of faith today. We pray that his ministry with us will enrich both the development of his faith and the life and witness of our church.
We lift all these prayers up to you, Lord. In your Son’s name, we pray. Amen.
Bruce Van Voorhis serves as missionary with the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCA’s in Hong Kong. He serves as the Coordinator for Interfaith Programs.