Rev. Amy Gopp, Week of Compassion
Reconciliation is deeper in eating together.
Biblical Text Suggestions
Calls to Worship
African Proverbs and Quotes
BIBLICAL TEXT SUGGESTIONS
"Biblical hope is not a passive exercise. It is a particular way of living in the world, a choice to live differently in the present."
Source: "Doing Justice," United Church of Christ, March 2001.
|Matt 5:1-11, 21-24, 43-48
*Many Sudanese, especially those from the south, believe this passage from Isaiah to be about themselves; "a nation tall and smooth" and "a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide" are understood as descriptions of the Nubian people and of the Nile River(s).
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CALLS TO WORSHIP
Leader: As we gather to worship, in peace, on this day,
People: we can't help but think of those in the Sudan who cannot gather in peace.
Leader: As we gather as sisters and brothers,
People: we remember that we are all the children of God.
Leader: Come, let us gather as followers of Jesus.
People: We gather as disciples of Christ.
Leader: Come, let us gather as witnesses to the power of the living gospel.
People: We celebrate the common roots that bind us together as the family of God.
Leader: Come, let us join as one voice to cry out for a just and lasting peace in the Sudan.
All: Let us hold onto the hope of Christ that is good news for all.
Source: Amy Gopp
A: Come near us, O Lord of hosts, and shine upon us. Come Father, go and come. We were nearly lost in the wilderness, we had vanished in a bad place. Our brother Jesus, come visit us once more.
All: Come Father, go and come. We were nearly lost in the wilderness, we had disappeared far away.
B: Come near us, O Lord of hosts, and shine upon us. Come Father, go and come. We were nearly lost in the wilderness, we had vanished in a bad place. No temptation will have victory over us.
All: Come Father, go and come. We were nearly lost in the wilderness, we had disappeared far away. Go and come.
Source: Jakob Kot Anuaac, Ciec Dinka, written in the 1970s, based on John 14:1-4 from Mark Nikkel, Dinka Christianity. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2001.
Leader: Lord, who is in heaven,
A: Visit us for our hearts are worried.
B: We have no faith, try to visit us all.
A: We are all distressed; the world is oppressing us.
B: The evil of the world has severed us from your path.
A: We are left alone, we are left,
B: We are left, we are left.
Leader: Lord, who is able to help,
A: Allow us to be seated at your right hand, O Lord.
B: We have heard of your salvation, Lord.
A: Release us from evil,
B: we are casting ourselves into fire.
A: The evil of the world has diverted us into fire, Lord.
B: We are burning, we are dying,
A: We are burning, we are burning.
All: We are burning for your love, mercy, and peace.
Source: A Dinka Christian song, from Mark Nikkel, Dinka Christianity. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2001.
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A LITURGY based on Isaiah 6
Call to Worship
Leader: You have come. You have come as you are. Yet you have not come alone. You have come as one who goes before and one who comes after, accompanied by ancestors and by those who will call you ancestor. You have come as a child of the living God, faithful to the claim God has on your life, open to hear and answer the call. You have come as fresh seeds in the roots of old stumps.
All: We are here, Lord, as seeds in a stump, ready to respond to the needs of our Sudanese sisters and brothers.
God of peace, who empowers us to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, embolden us anew as we focus our minds and hearts on those suffering in Sudan. In the midst of war, oppression, and genocide, we lift up our Sudanese sisters and brothers to you. Their villages are desolate, without inhabitants, their houses without a single soul inside; their land desecrated, scorched and abandoned. Yet, like Isaiah when he was commissioned a prophet, the Sudanese have also asked, "Lord, how long?" How long will the suffering last? How long will our minds be dulled, our ears shut, and our eyes closed? How long will we listen but not comprehend, look but not understand? How long, O Lord? For even in the smallest stump that has been chopped down or burnt to the ground there lies a seed - a holy seed, to be sure - one that will assure that life goes on, even in the midst of death. A holy seed that will assure that the community will persevere, even in the midst of division. A holy seed that will assure that the love of God vitalizes even us old stumps, transforming us into sacred seeds that will bear witness to new life. May we be the soil in which these seeds will take root. May we be the water these seeds will drink in. May we be the sunshine from which these seeds will be nourished. May we, as a community of faith and hope, respond to you, O God, by proclaiming to our suffering Sudanese sisters and brothers, "Here we are!" Amen.
Prayer of Confession
Leader: Lord God, we are tired and worn. We cannot make sense of what is happening around us or inside of us. Long have we listened, Lord, but we do not comprehend. Long have we looked, Lord, but we do not understand. It is as though our minds are dull, our ears closed, and our eyes shut. Our cities lie in waste and our land is utterly desolate. Our temples are empty and our community is fragmented.
All: We are, indeed, tired and worn, dearest Lord. But our hearts are longing. Forgive us for not continuing to listen and look. Forgive us for our lack of faith in answering your call when we know that it is your voice we hear. Forgive us for merely watching the plight of those seemingly far away instead of taking action, for we know the plight of one affects us all.
Words of Assurance
Leader: Remind us, Patient and Persistent God, that we are your sacred seeds. Convince us that it is us you are calling to grow and rise up out of old stumps into new life. Promise us your living water when we forget to nurture ourselves. Promise us your divine light when we do not feel enough sunshine. Remind us that when we honor even one who suffers we honor all of your creation. Assure us, holy, holy, holy Lord of hosts, that even old dead stumps contain the seeds of new life.
All: For in you, Lord God, we find holy seeds. In you, we find hope. In you, we are forgiven. Amen.
Invitation to Communion
It is said in the Sudan that "Reconciliation is deeper in eating together." When we come to the Lord's Table to eat together, we do so having been invited by Christ the Reconciler. We gather around an open table that has been set for all - for those with bread to eat, for those without, for those fighting over bread, for those desperate to reconcile and eat together in peace. No matter how we come or where we come from, we all come broken. As we approach this table now, we can't help but think of our sisters and brothers in Sudan who would weep to join us around this table. In the broken body of Christ we are about to partake, we see the brokenness of the Sudan. In the consecrated body of Christ we are about to partake, we envision the wholeness that emerges when we share our brokenness. Come now, believing with your whole heart that the peace of Christ is found in the sharing and breaking of bread.
Gracious and Loving God, we have tasted that you are, indeed, the Bread of Life! We thank you for this meal we have just shared not only with one another here but also with our Sudanese sisters and brothers desperate to be fed the good news of your love and peace. We thank you, God of healing and wholeness, for receiving us just as we are, sharing our own brokenness as well as the brokenness of other members of our human family. Bless that which we have just partaken so that it may encourage us to serve you by serving others, and strengthen us for the journey. Amen.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader: God of all that is new, we bow before you in thanksgiving and praise. We recognize all those who have come before us and all those who will follow after, ancestors and offspring in your circle of life, and think especially of our brothers and sisters in the Sudan. To you and you alone be the glory for planting seeds in dead stumps. To you be the glory, for you are life in the midst of death!
All: As with an old oak whose trunk remains when its leaves have fallen, so are we the holy offspring that is the stump. Praise be to you, O God! Praise be to you who breathes in us life anew and who empowers us to bear witness to all that is life-giving!
Charge and Benediction
May we be the soil in which new life will take root. May we, as a community of faith and hope, respond to the suffering of our Sudanese sisters and brothers by taking action, lifting our voices, and relying on the power of the living gospel of Jesus Christ to redeem the world. Go in peace.
May we not forget the peoples and land of the Sudan where the Blue and White Niles meet. May we work and pray for the diverse peoples of the Sudan to meet in peace. May we go now in peace, spreading the good news of the gospel of Christ to all we meet.
Source: Amy Gopp
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A Plea for Darfur
A: The people of Darfur experience horrendous crimes, including gang rapes of women and girls, burning of homes and religious buildings, killing of babies, and other atrocities. The faith community must be vigilant and act to end this humanitarian crisis.
B: We have the power to stop it. But we must act now, before it's too late. We will join citizens from around the world to plea for Sudan, calling for the international community to act in solidarity with the people of Darfur.
A: In the 20th century, we have known mass slaughter of human life, displacement, starvation, and rape as a means of ethnic cleansing in Armenia, The Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda. Now in southern Sudan and in Darfur, hundreds of lives have been lost in the 21st century, but countless more can be saved. The faith community must be vigilant and act to end this humanitarian crisis.
B: We are witnessing the destruction of human life. Let us join hearts with the faith community throughout North America-in prayer, in action, and in spirit, to let the Sudanese people know that they are not abandoned. Not on our watch will we stand idly by and have genocide occur.
All: We pray that peace, protection, and mercy prevail in Sudan. Amen.
Source: Adapted from http://www.savedarfur.org/
A: My soul proclaims your greatness, O God,
B: and my spirit rejoices in you, my Savior.
A: For you have looked with favor upon your lowly servant,
B: and from this day forward all generations will call me blessed.
A: For you, the Almighty, have done great things for me,
B: and holy is your Name.
A: Your mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear you.
B: You have shown strength with your arm,
A: you have scattered the proud in their conceit,
B: you have deposed the mighty from their thrones
A: and raised the lowly to high places.
B: You have filled the hungry with good things,
A: while you have sent the rich away empty.
B: You have come to the aid of Israel your servant, mindful of your mercy --
All: the promise you made to our ancestors, to Sarah and Abraham and their descendants forever.
Source: Luke 1:46-55, The Inclusive New Testament
"By the Waters" (a dramatic reading based on Psalm 137)
Women: By the waters of Khartoum there we sat down and wept when we remembered Juba.
Men: Southern Sudanese, exiled, uprooted and longing for home for over twenty years.
Leader: Eyes sad, they told me of papayas, peanuts, millet, honey, so plentiful in Juba.
Women: We will return South as soon as the peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement is signed.*
Leader: Eyes hopeful.
Men: Decades of civil war raging in Sudan, two million dead, millions displaced;
Women: camps for displaced squalid and desperate.
Leader: Eyes angry.
Women: We are waiting, waiting.
Leader: Eyes yearning.
Men: Fighting in Darfur, fighting in Upper Nile, delaying a signed agreement.
Women: We long to go home.
Leader: Eyes desperate.
All: By the waters we sat and wept.
*A peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army was signed on May 26, 2004, bringing renewed hope despite continued suffering in Darfur and other areas.
Source: Annetta Miller, Mennonite Central Committee, Sudan
"A Tribute to Rizpah"
Women: Sisters, at the cross, the struggle continues! In Africa, sisters keep vigil.
Men: Away with genocide, away with revenge, away with rape.
Women: Our sons are murdered, our daughters are raped; mothers of Africa keep vigil at the cross.
Men: At the cross they cry out for mercy.
Women: God of Hannah, Rizpah, Mary, save our land from self-destruction.
Men: Enough is enough; away with the machete, land mines, and guns.
Women: Away with the knife.
Men: Let our girls enjoy their childhood and their womanhood.
All: Give peace and life a chance
Women: Mothers and daughters of Africa; Hannah, Rizpah and Mary accompany you
in your struggle;
Men: you are not alone.
All: The vigil continues at the cross! Give peace and life a chance!
Source: Nyambura Njoroge, Kenya, adapted from Lynda Katsuno-Ishii and Edna J. Orteza, eds, Of Rolling Waters and Roaring Wine: A Celebration of the Woman Song. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 2000.
A Litany for the Victims of the Atrocities in Sudan
In a makeshift refugee camp in Darfur, Western Sudan, a tear flows down the cheek of a defenseless mother as she strokes the arm and face of her starving child, her head is covered but her eyes convey a truth of overwhelming anguish.
We will not stand idly by the blood of this child.
In Darfur's open desert, a militia of fighters backed by the Sudanese government rides rampant on camels and horses, fanning the flames of ethnic strife. Villages and towns are scorched. Food and water - the withholding of them - are used as weapons of death. And innocent people of Darfur's African communities are forcibly abducted, enslaved, raped, and slaughtered in mass numbers as part of a systematic campaign to wipe out entire groups of peoples from the region.
We will not stand idly by their blood.
In the capital city of Khartoum, the face of a top official reddens in anger as he strongly denies evidence that the government of Sudan recruits and arms a militia to terrorize and murder black Africans, and blocks humanitarian access for relief workers in Darfur.
And we say to him, "Do not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor!"
In the eyes of the world community, the genocidal activity and terror perpetrated against millions of people of ethnic black African origin finally gain attention.
We stand solidarity with every one of us and every one of them.
And, in a moment of urgency and hope, we stand to remember that justice is our duty, to recognize the image of the Divine in every human life, to renounce inaction in the face of enormous tragedy, and, we pray, to rouse an immediate and effective response from the world at large on behalf of the victims of Sudan. Amen.
Source: The Commission on Social Action of the Union for Reform Judaism and the National Council of Churches USA; adapted from Rabbi David Saperstein's remarks at the Sudanese Embassy on July 22, 2004.
A Dinka Song of Lamentation
How does the spoiling of the world come about?
Our land is closed in a prison cell.
[They] have spoiled our land,
Spoiled our land with bearded guns,
Guns which thunder and then even sound beautiful
Like the ancient drums with which buffaloes were charmed
Until their horns were caught.
Is the black color of skin such a terrible thing
That the Government should draw its guns?
The police pacing up and down,
Gunners causing dust to rise,
Cowards surrendering to the arm?
A country we took back from foreigners,
A country for which we fought together,
And the English left our country
Only to be attacked with Bren-guns.
What a treatment!
O what a treatment...
Our case is in Court with [the spirits] above.
The Court is convened between the clouds...
[Our ancestral spirits] have a cause.
They convened the Court
And called upon God:
"God, why are you doing this [to us]?
Don't you see what has become of the black skin?"
Source: Francis Deng, Sudan, from Gabriel Meyer, War and Faith in Sudan. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005.
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Pastoral Prayer for Darfur
Prayer of Confession
We know there are tremendous problems facing the world: natural disasters, civil wars, violence, disparities in resources, and sickness.
We confess that there are days when we look the other way, change the channel, or pretend the problems don't exist.
We say that the problem is someone else's concern or displace the blame.
We are not confident that we can make an impact and we fear failure for ourselves and on the behalf of others.
We might even think that moving to make a difference will change us in ways that we will not like or make us uncomfortable.
Before we begin, we admit our desire to give up - on our opponents and on the victims.
Forgive us for our faintheartedness and selfishness, for failing to love others as we should, and for failing to believe that you have empowered us to protect our brothers and sisters.
Words of Assurance
Remind us, Holy One, that some faithful persons refused to give up on us, and that You have not given up on any of us. We stand to be forgiven, mindful that You hold nothing against us but rather walk with us as we attempt to walk with others who suffer.
Source: Adapted from http://www.savedarfur.org/
The Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred ... let me sow love
Where there is injury ... pardon
Where there is doubt ... faith
Where there is despair ... hope
Where there is darkness ... light
Where there is sadness ... joy
grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled ... as to console
To be understood ... as to understand,
To be loved ... as to love
For it is in giving ... that we receive,
It is in pardoning ... that we are pardoned,
It is in dying ... that we are born to eternal life.
A Prayer for Peace
Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS,
for they shall be known as
the Children of God.
We have been told to love our enemies,
do good to those who hate us,
bless those who curse us,
pray for those who abuse us.
To those that strike us on the cheek,
offer the other one also,
and from those who take away our cloak,
do not withhold our coat as well.
Give to everyone who begs from us,
and of those who take away our goods,
do not ask for them again.
And as we wish that others would do to us,
do so to them.
A: Oh, God You are Peace
B: From You comes Peace
A: To You returns Peace
B: Revive us with a salutation of Peace,
All: And lead us to your abode of Peace.
A Prayer of the Dinka People of Sudan
A: In the time when God created all things, God created the sun;
B: And the sun is born and dies and comes again.
A: God created the moon;
B: And the moon is born and dies and comes again.
A: God created the stars;
B: And the stars are born and die and come again.
A: God created humankind;
All: And a human being is born and dies . . . and does not come again.
Prayer from a Darfurian Woman
Lord, I want to join my prayers to many other voices. Every few months we are driven away from one refugee camp to the other, so far in the desert where nothing, nothing at all exists. This is no way for a human being to live. No way to live in such a shocking place - uncultivated, waterless, treeless and barren region...! Everything is burning, Lord, around me, around us ... in me, in us ... Everything is barren, hell, hell...! Yet, Lord, we believe you are there, beside us. We pray for all the Africans living now our same condition. Bring back peace and tranquility to our beloved country. Peace which is desired by everybody, the old and young, rich and poor, women and men. Amen ... amen ... Let it be so.
Source: Gloria Silvano, Sudan / CAFOD, www.savedarfur.org
A Prayer for Justice
Loving God, you hold us in your hands for we are all made in your image.
Help us to celebrate our differences. Help us to use our diversity to share with each other the richness of our many cultures, languages and backgrounds. Help us to dissolve the barriers of race and work for a just society in which none are despised and discriminated against on the basis of false divisions of race and in which each is valued for their true humanity.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, who saw beyond all human divisions and reached out to the good within each person.
A Prayer for Overcoming Indifference
I watch the news, God. I observe it all from a comfortable distance. I see people suffering, and I don't lift a finger to help them. I condemn injustice but I do nothing to fight against it. I am pained by the faces of starving children, but I am not moved enough to try to save them. I step over homeless people in the street, I walk past outstretched hands, I avert my eyes, I close my heart.
Forgive me, God, for remaining aloof while others are in need of my assistance.
Wake me up, God; ignite my passion, fill me with outrage. Remind me that I am responsible for Your world. Don't allow me to stand idly by. Inspire me to act. Teach me to believe that I can repair some corner of this world.
When I despair, fill me with hope. When I doubt my strength, fill me with faith. When I am weary, renew my spirit. When I lose direction, show me the way back to meaning, back to compassion, back to You.
Source: Naomi Levy, www.africaaction.org
A Prayer of Empowerment
to be a bold participant,
rather than a timid saint in waiting,
in the difficult ordinariness of now;
to exercise the authority of honesty,
rather than to defer to power,
or deceive to get it;
to influence someone for justice,
rather than impress anyone for gain;
and, by grace, to find treasures
of joy, of friendship, of peace
hidden in the fields of the daily
you give me to plow.
Source: Ted Loder, Wrestling the Light, www.africaaction.org
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AFRICAN PROVERBS AND QUOTES
When we pray, we move our feet. -African proverb
Peace is like the rain that makes the grass grow,
War is like the drought that withers and kills the grass. -Sudan
Having a good discussion is like having riches. -Kenya
It is peace that has a breast to suck. -Somalia
The sore is cured but the scar remains. -Congo
In the great river there are large and small fish. -Ghana
Ashes fly back in the face of the one who threw them. -Niger
When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. -Uganda
Much silence has a mighty noise. -Tanzania
The one who denies the sound of the living will hear the sound of the dead. -Kenya
When a woman is hungry, she says, "Roast something for the children to eat." -Congo
If the drumbeat changes, the dancer must adapt. -Burkina Faso
War is not milk. -Kenya
The river swells with the contribution of small streams. -Gabon
True power comes through cooperation and silence. -Ghana
Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
A tiger does not have to proclaim his/her Tigritude. -Nigeria
A family is like a forest, if you are outside it is dense, if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position. -Ghana
When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion. --Ethiopia
You cannot do anything unless god is there. --Ghana
"Peacemaking is not an Event, it is an Ongoing Process." --New Sudan Council of Churches
"Every child in Africa is born with a financial burden which a lifetime's work cannot repay - the debt is a new form of slavery, as vicious as the slave trade." --All Africa Conference of Churches
"We look forward to a nonracial, just and egalitarian society in which color, creed and race shall form no point of reference." --Stephen Biko, South Africa
"We say men and women were created in the image of God. I refuse to imagine a God who is miserable, poor, ignorant, superstitious, fearful, oppressed and wretched - which is the lot of the majority of those created in God's own image." --Julius K. Nyerere
"God is not accountable to us for the senseless harm we cause one another. We are accountable to God." --Etty Hillseum, Holocaust survivor