In response to the San Bernardino shooting and increasingly hostile anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric, the Office of Race Relations and Office of Social Justice have collaborated on this litany and prayer. The litany is drawn from the Christian Reformed Church’s three confessions, the Contemporary Testimony (Our World Belongs to God), and one Ecumenical Faith Declaration (Belhar Confession).
People of God, from where does your hope come this day?
The love of God we have in Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who established the Church, which lives on today in this congregation.
Is the Church limited to the bounds of North America?
This holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain people,
but it is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world, though still joined and united
in heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith.
In a world filled with suffering and injustice, relationships are too often characterized by fear and hatred, such as the fear and hatred we see directed towards Arabs and Muslims today. How can we know that God is still at work?
God’s plan cannot be changed;
God’s promise cannot fail;
the calling according to God’s purpose cannot be revoked;
the merit of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified;
and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out.
Since God has delivered us, why should we seek to do good?
Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image,
so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits,
so that he may be praised through us,
so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,
and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.
What does God call us to do?
Joining the mission of God,
the church is sent with the gospel of the kingdom
to call everyone to know and follow Christ
and to proclaim to all the assurance that in the name of Jesus
there is forgiveness of sin and new life for all who repent and believe.
Is God’s mission limited to the ministry of the Word?
No. The Spirit calls all members to embrace God’s mission
in their neighborhoods and in the world:
to feed the hungry, bring water to the thirsty,
welcome the stranger, clothe the naked,
care for the sick, and free the prisoner.
We repent of leaving this work to a few,
for this mission is central to our being.
What is God’s mission for us?
God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ,
to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world,
to remember that the church is called blessed because it is a peacemaker,
and to witness both by word and by deed to the new heaven and the new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Adapted from the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, Our World Belongs to God, and the Belhar Confession
God of peace, as a people inspired by your Spirit we are not comfortable with the disdain we see projected towards faith communities who are different from our own. We want to stand for what is right but we don’t know where to start. We fear our words will only result in more division. Make us your ambassadors of reconciliation and peace.
God of justice, protect every person of every religion who faces persecution and hatred. We lift up Muslims and those in the Arab-American and Arab-Canadian communities who have experienced hate crimes and disgraceful rhetoric. We lift up Christians who are persecuted when they speak up for justice in your name. We lift up all faith leaders who bravely lead their communities with calls for nonviolence.
God of hope, may our eyes turn towards you so that we can remember what true peace looks like. Turn our anxieties and polarized attitudes into desire to see heaven coming down to earth. Give us a vision for peace that allows all to flourish—a vision for Shalom. You promise that a day will come when the lion will lay down with the lamb, and no one will harm anyone else because we will all know You more truly. Keep our eyes on that hope.
God of courage, make us brave to speak and stand with people who are different from ourselves. As you have reconciled us to yourself may we be a shining light of reconciliation in a world that lives with dark fears of the other.
[Image: Flickr user Alessandra Kocman]