Pray with Italy, October 29, 2023
Lectionary Selection: Matthew 22:34-46
Prayers for Italy
Italy, within touching distance of Africa, is a destination for the many fleeing conflict, persecution, and poverty on the African continent. Italy calls on other nations to play their part so that it may not bear this load alone.
The lectionary text recalls the two greatest commandments, and, together, these draw us back to what truly matters: loving God and loving others. As we hold Italy in prayer, we ask God’s blessing on those who prioritize others’ needs over their own and, indeed, on those nations who risk to care for foreigners who reach their shores.
May those whose hearts are hardened against the stranger soften, may we all be called to welcome, and may we all resist the temptation to imagine that the wellbeing of others is someone else’s problem.
As world leaders wrestle with how to manage migration and voters, we pray for courage, creativity, tenacity, and collaboration.
Mission Moment from Italy
The tiny island of Lampedusa, the nearest piece of Europe to Africa, saw its population double in number last week. The “hot spot” detention center, where people are processed before being transferred off the island, lies hidden in a valley in the island’s center. It is not uncommon for occupancy to far exceed its 400-person capacity, but, with 6,000 fighting for space, the authorities had little option but to allow its occupants to leave the facility and roam the island, as they used to be permitted to do in the past.
Mediterranean Hope (MH) staff, always present to welcome those at the dock, helped to coordinate the effort to feed and care for those arriving, drawing on the goodwill of many locals who prepared meals and provided water. And, aware, that many arrive unnoticed in tiny boats in the island’s rocky coves, MH staff also patrolled, ready to receive exhausted travelers.
In these wretched circumstances, humanity shone through in the relief of the young girls who had walked from Morocco to Tunisia before crossing, glad finally to eat after days without food; in the exuberance of the boys from Gambia, Senegal, and Mali who danced and drummed on plastic boxes, overjoyed to arrive alive; in the dignity of the weary travelers who helped to hand out food at the church and to tidy up the overcrowded dock, still able to put others’ needs before their own.
Our feelings about migration may be complex but the theology is simple: we are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. On Lampedusa, the evidence of that message is there for all to see.
Prayer and Mission Moment written by Fiona Kendall
Partners in Italy
Global Ministries Mission Co-worker in Italy
Fiona Kendall is jointly appointed by Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, and the Church of Scotland, to serve as European & Legal Affairs Advisor for Mediterranean Hope, the refugee and migrant program of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI). Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.