Pray with Jamaica, September 5, 2021

Pray with Jamaica, September 5, 2021

Lectionary Selection:  Mark 7:24-37

Prayers for Jamaica

God of limitless Love, Instigator of Life who plants us with care by rivers of living waters, we take a deep breath now [breathe deeply] and are in awe of the way your Spirit is ever-present with us.

As we seek to stand firm together as a global church, unified through our common humanity, our oneness in/with the creation and the abiding faith of Jesus Christ, as we pray with our siblings in the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and with our little sisters at Pringle Home for Children, may we be as bold, courageous and firm in our faith as the Syrophoenician woman.

Loving One, move us with the power of your compassion for all women and mothers/caregivers of all sorts who are literally and figuratively estranged from their daughters (from generations removed), who feel helpless in knowing what more they can do but turn to you for hope and rescue as they watch their children suffer.

Move us to deeply care for those living in terror, with trauma, or otherwise living in bondage to and feel disempowered by forces beyond themselves.

Make us sensitive and responsive to the cries of those among us waiting for a miracle.

Disturb us with your broken-heartedness for the ways social hierarchies force entire groups of your image-bearers, our siblings, to the fringes, to be seen and treated as less than, made vulnerable, as outsiders within, under- and de-valued. Forgive us for our part in this.

Sigh deeply again, O Lord, and proclaim over us “Ephphatha!” that we may have ears to hear, mouths to speak, and eyes to see the way you desire to transform the lives of all people, us too.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, may we be overwhelmed with the same amazement as told in the lectionary reading – of the miracle of Love inspired to seek equity and inclusion – that we are moved to work towards the Liberation of all people in all places.

Mission Stewardship Moment from Jamaica

“Where peace is lacking, God has a vested interest, and so must God’s servants. Where justice is absent, peace is almost impossible.”

Rt. Rev. Gary Harriot (“Moderator’s Musing: A Call for Peace” p.9 of UCJCI Weekly Newsletter, July 7, 2021).

The United Church in Jamaica and Cayman Islands has and continues to be passionately and boldly engaged in civil, social, economic, and political peace and justice issues, much akin to our histories and present struggles in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ in the United States and Canada. In fact, long before determining this year’s theme (“Rooted! Resilient! Responding in HOPE” wherein HOPE is an acronym for Health, Opportunity, Peace, and Evangelism), the UCJCI has been living into their value statement.  It reads as follows:

The United Church represents a people called by God, to love and worship God as Creator, Jesus the Saviour, and the Holy Spirit the Comforter; to make a difference in people’s lives by actively loving and serving those around us; to bring the good news of the Gospel to all people; to nurture each other in faith; to pursue God’s justice and peace in all areas of life, so that ‘God’s kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven.’

Since July, the intentional focus has been on peace specifically. Siblings across the UCJCI read together with the conviction that “A messenger of Peace doesn’t just preach for the end of physical wars, but speaks against abuse, dishonesty and anything that denies human rights and dignity, or goes against God’s commandments (to Love)” (UCJCI Family Worship Liturgy, July 11, 2021). Further to sermon series to mobilize members to live into the example of Jesus as ambassadors for peace and justice, the UCJCI’s “Thursdays in Black” campaign has continued to be in the spotlight region-wide.

UCJCI’s participation in “Thursday in Black” – an international campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence and impacts of gender-based and domestic violence – is longstanding but has found a resurgence in the last year especially. One of the primary instigators of the revival of “Thursday in Black” and UCJCI’s commitment to take a stand against rape and violence, the Rt. Rev. Gary Harriot, has garnered widespread support from individuals, families, entire congregations, and charges, as well as the ministry teams, executive councils and various auxiliaries of the church across both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. As a ministry of UCJCI, Pringle Home for Children has been no exception to this groundswell of solidarity and support for Love, peace, and justice, following Christ’s example.

Pringle Home for Children is a place of hope, healing, and care for girls ages 6-18.  It has a license as a Private Residential Children’s Care Facility. It is operated by the United Church in Jamaica and Cayman Islands in partnership with Jamaica’s Child Protection and Family Services Agency. Girls who come to live at Pringle Home do so after being removed from their families of origin, homes, and communities.  That is due primarily to witnessing and/or personally experiencing abuse (most often gender-based) and/or neglect. For this reason, the “Thursdays in Black” campaign doesn’t just hit close to heart and home for the girls. Still, it is becoming part of their experience of healing, of reclaiming their stories as survivors, of resurrecting hope and being empowered to speak up and stand up for a future free from rape and violence for all girls and women, present and future, in Jamaica, the Caymans, the Caribbean, and the world.

For the church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, much like yours, responding to our times’ presenting needs and crises is what it means to be a Christ-follower.  We are called to witness the testimony and teachings of Love, Life, and Liberation for all creation made incarnate. As the Rt. Rev. Gary Harriot puts it, “If we want peaceful societies, we must pay attention to justice issues in our midst.  We must pay attention to the weak and vulnerable; to those who are at risk; to those who are less likely to be considered or remembered”.  In this endeavor, “The people of God; the church; every Christian has a responsibility in this (God’s) mission enterprise of peace and peace-building” (“Moderator’s Musing: A Call for Peace” p.9 of UCJCI Weekly Newsletter, July 7, 2021). Together, as members of One Body spread across Jamaica, Cayman, the U.S, Canada, and far more reaching (across the world), may we surrender to an understanding, an urgent conviction, that our own Liberation is inextricably tied to one another(‘s).  It is the holy work to which we are called.  Amen.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” – Jesus (Matthew 5:9)

Prayer and Mission Moment by Rachel Pellett

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More information on Jamaica:

Global Ministries Mission Co-worker in Jamaica:
Rachel Pellett serves with the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.

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