Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, November 20, 2016
Empowering Voices—in Prayer
I live in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural suburb of Chicago. I work in another multi-ethnic, multi-cultural suburb of Chicago. I have been involved with prayer activities for years, and have more recently added peace-building activities to what I have to offer. So—I was honored to be asked to speak at a panel discussion at the Muslim Community Center in the suburb where I work. That discussion took place earlier this evening, and involved six diverse panelists, and was called “Empowering Diverse Voices.”
What was the primary purpose of this event? Diverse groups of people wanted to come together. Many wanted to collaborate with other minorities that have felt marginalized during this polarizing election process. And—there was a diverse panel, indeed! African-American, Latina, Jewish, Christian and Muslim speakers to discuss how the different segments of communities can stand together against hate to promote harmony, peace and love for all.
I spoke from a Christian viewpoint, and brought my particular understanding as a trained chaplain into the forum. Fear—anxiety—running rampant. Emotions on high, with documented instances of bullying, intimidation, fear-mongering and hate speech spiking hugely since the election earlier this month. (Nationwide, as many instances in the past two weeks as there were in the previous six months.) I spoke peace into this uncertain time, highlighting the many passages in the Bible where God—Ha Shem—the Higher Power tells us “be not afraid!”
Several panelists expressed the hope that participation would bring diverse segments of our communities closer. What one person very much wished was to be sure of a caring environment, a respectful workplace and engaged community. We all want this, where all of our children can learn together and not be bullied or intimidated, and where all of us can live as people who love what this country was founded upon and still stands for.
I was asked for an action step. I thought of how Jesus told us to pray for those who persecute us. Accordingly, I suggested a monthly time of ecumenical prayer for our leaders, communities, and for those we disagree with, starting in December. The second Monday of each month, for six months. Joining together in mutual support and prayer, I will open the church I serve, St. Luke’s Church at 9233 Shermer in Morton Grove, from 7 to 8 pm.
Our first gathering will be on Monday, December 12, 2016. It will be a time for meditation, prayer, and sharing for mutual support. May God richly bless this gathering together for prayer. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.
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