I believe in a really big, loving, forgiving God.
I am one of the volunteers for an organization called World in Prayer. Each week, a member of the international team writes prayers for the whole world, highlighting current events. In my first year, I (randomly and way ahead of time) was assigned the weeks of the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing. I worried I was bad luck for the world, but it taught me important lessons in stillness during chaos.
Last week was my turn to write, and below is what was read as the prayers of the people in churches of many denominations across the globe.
Gracious and Good God, we come towards All Saints’ Day with darkness in our world and with hope for your light.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who healed individuals and neighborhoods. We pray for those angels among us: those who feed the hungry, comfort the aggrieved, and love their neighbors. We pray for the dying, the sick, and the hopeless, especially those who are alone in their pain and despair.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who improved the lives of children and families. We pray for families across the world who mourn the loss of children due to disease, malnutrition, and displacement. We pray for the families in China, where the one-child policy has ended. We pray for foster children and for their families. We pray for those who are unable to conceive.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who were travelers, who proclaimed your goodness, who founded communities, who were martyrs, and who brought peace into the world. We pray for South Sudan, where new reports of crimes against humanity are emerging. At least seven ceasefires have been agreed to and broken since conflict started in December 2013, and more than two million people have become refugees.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who were people of the cloth and people for the people. We pray for Nepal, which elected its first female president.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who were artists: musicians, poets, gardeners, teachers. We pray for the victims of school violence in Aberdeen, Scotland and in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Help our schools to be safe havens for children, staff, and families. Help our cultures of violence to become cultures of love.
Since last All Saints’ Day, many of us have mourned the loss of someone who was a saint in our lives or in the lives of our loved ones. May we feel their heavenly presence more than their earthly absence. May they be missionaries of your love and protection.
We have darkness in our world and hope for your light. Amen.