Below is the text of the service in Prayers for Peace held in Our Lady of Lourdes Church and shared with Westwood Parish Church. If you were unable to attend the service in person you can still join in this prayer service. As always we offer sections of this in text and audio.
In the name of Christ, we welcome you to this time of prayer as we seek peace in the Holy Land. Father Dougan, John Barrie and I met on Tuesday 17th October and rapidly discerned that gathering in prayer was something we could call on our respective congregations to participate in and so also to invite others to join with us.
Since then, Pope Francis has called upon all who follow Christ to join in prayer. Yesterday Friday 27th October designated as a special day of prayer for peace. Although not directly in response to Pope Francis call to prayer our timing could not have been better!
We welcome you all to the House of God, this place of prayer and of peace.
May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Reading – Psalm 34: 8 – 14
Song – Be still for the presence of the Lord
Earlier this month the Bishops Conference of Scotland released this statement:
“We have been shocked and horrified by the outbreak of senseless violence in the Holy Land. Our hearts go out to the innocent people of Israel who have been murdered and terrorised and to the innocent civilians of Gaza dying in a war zone. We join with Pope Francis in his call for peace and echo his condemnation of this widespread outbreak of violence. We pray for peace and call on the faithful, and all people of good will to do the same. We hope the violence will cease, that civilians and non-combatants will be respected and that all hostages will be released.”
Reading – 1 Timothy 2: 1 – 7
We pray to you our Father in Heaven that all people may live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence towards God. We know Father, that you would grant our prayer for you love all people, you made us in your image and you desire only the best for us; to know your love, experience your forgiveness and live in peace with you and with our neighbour.
But humanity is flawed and those who rule over us as kings and leaders, politicians, governments and those in authority do not always lead us in ways of peace or love for our neighbour. We pray for all who are in positions of authority, those who make decisions over war and peace for Israel and Hamas that they may not equate revenge with justice or see retaliation as a means to peace. Where they seek to crush the enemy may they come to acknowledge that mortal death does not end an ideology, but hardens it, affirms it, strengthens it.
Where generation upon generation have known nothing but conflict, pain, suffering and hatred may those in authority offer a new word, a fresh hope, a new direction that offers tolerance, acceptance, respect and forgiveness. For the road to peace is an arduous road to travel, it is a pathway of vulnerability, openness and fragility, it is never smooth but ultimately rewarding.
Blessed are those who work for peace; God will call them His children! AMEN
Reading – Matthew 5: 1 – 12 (The Beatitudes)
Address – Father Frank Dougan
Song – Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Reading – Colossians 1: 15 – 20
Words from Rev Sally Foster-Fulton Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
“I reach out to you all, as we continue to grapple with the shattering violence unfolding in Israel and Gaza, and to ask for your prayers and your action.
“Across Scotland, our Jewish friends, neighbours and colleagues grieve the loss of loved ones following the devastating terrorist attacks we witnessed unfolding over the weekend, worry for friends and family who have been kidnapped and fear the possibility of increased antisemitism in their own neighbourhoods as tensions rise across the world.
“In Scotland, our friends with family in Gaza mourn the loss of loved ones, worry for those unable to find safety or a place of refuge and fear an even more uncertain future.
“Together we agonise, yet again, over peace gone to pieces. We desperately try to fathom how we can be any comfort to the members of our global family trapped in the middle of such a barrage of violence and fear. We are appalled by the horrifying levels of brutality and the inhumanity of mass murder scenes which were broadcast across our screens in horrifying, gut-wrenching detail.
“We call for calm and active consideration for the innocent civilians who are suffering in Israel and Gaza. Peace in our world can never come through violence. Peace in our spirits can never come through revenge.
“So, what can we do in the face of war?
“If you pray, pray from your guts, not your lips – offer a prayer that moves in you and through you – one that calls you to reach out to a fearful neighbour, to speak up for peace and calm and the unity of humanity.
“Pray for all those many people injured and those mourning the loss of loved ones and those living in abject fear who await news of family members missing.
“Wherever you are, check in on your Jewish neighbours, friends and colleagues.
“Wherever you are, check in on your neighbours, friends and colleagues who have family in Gaza.
“Wherever you are, be mindful of your words. Tarring with a broad brush adds more fuel to the fire, so be kind to one another wherever you find each other.
“The Zulu phrase, Ubuntu, is the theme for my year as Moderator and its challenging truth resonates powerfully today. ‘I am because you are.’ We are one global family. When we look into the face of another human being, God looks out from the windows of their souls. Today, love God by loving each other.”
Musical item for Reflection
A Prayer for Peace
‘In days to come … they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.’
God, it is said that you are the peace that passes all understanding. We sit now, staggered at how quickly the fragile half-peace we had pieced together has unravelled.
The lessons we have so desperately needed to learn have been laid aside as the instruments of war begin their horrible, haunting reprise.
Call us back to our senses.
For the angry, abused and frightened among us, who strike out in a distorted quest for victory, help us find ways to convince that there is no victory to be found in violence.
Peace-making is a daunting path to tread, especially when fear follows so closely behind, so breathe your loving spirit into our hearts and help us walk your way.
We pray ceaselessly for our family in Israel and Palestine, for we are all family and when one part suffers, we are all depleted. Peace in pieces is a collective, shared shame.
God, you are the peace that passes all understanding, so help us understand how to find you.
In these present days we pray for all whose lives are in danger, those on the frontline of conflict, those who are defenceless civilians, the old who cannot flee, the child who is traumatised, the infirm confined to hospital bed, the mother and the father who bear excruciating grief at the loss of their child. We pray for those who have lost hope, confused and bewildered, angry and revengeful. We pray to you our God because you too have borne the pain of sacrifice in order to make peace. Bring all things we pray back into our loving embrace, restore us Lord.
We pray that the escalation of conflict may never come to pass as military allies make their presence known and the political divisions of East and West rears its ugly head once more. It does not take much to tip the balance; Lord may there be wisdom, restraint, consideration of the consequences not only for the middle-east but for us all.
We pray that those in need of aid may be supported and those who wish no part in conflict may play their part in bringing comfort to the hurting, food for their bellies, food for their souls, water for their thirst and water for their spirits, healing for their wounds and healing through faith.
Lord Jesus Christ, when words no longer suffice and we know only the anguish of hearts may you accept the prayers we offer to you now from the stillness of our spirits, prayers offered in silence and echoed by Your Spirit…
May these prayers live in our hearts until that time comes that all humanity can break bread together, embrace, and grant each other the Peace of God.
Then hear us now as we say together the word of the Lord’s Prayer saying:
Our Father who art in Heaven Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.
Song – I the Lord of sea and sky
And now… May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love, now and for evermore. AMEN.