Wednesday, 16 March 2011

It is pointless yet it is essential - it is all we can do - we prayed

At lunchtime today we did it.
There was some chatter as we gathered in the chapel and then the gong began to sound and our conversation dimmed.
We came together to pray and it became quiet.
We read and prayed terrible words from the book of Lamentations and from Jonah and Psalm 46 and Mark's gospel.
And yet there was still numbness, the images and scale of the devastation haunt us, too much to comprehend, too much to bear ... are we supposed to make sense of this?
And so we offer words and silence, we sing and light small candles ... and we know it is not enough, how could it ever be.
As the candles had been lit and many were leaving as the gong finished sounding at the end, a colleague remained standing and began singing his prayer aloud in Greek. I only really understood the word "tsunami" in what he sang and yet his prayer was deeply meaningful and profoundly moving to me. Often when I pray in my own language I will understand less than than even one word.
So we left the chapel, the uncomfortable lamentations and sense of powerlessness, and we moved back to our conversations, concerns and work
Of course it is pointless to pray. Of course it is essential to pray.
Together we offer our powerlessness in words and silence and trust that God in all his vulnerability may hear such prayers as ours.

Prayers for the Peoples

Wednesday 16 March 2011,

Remembering Japan, Libya, Bahrain and the world

The gong sounds

From Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.

Lord, hear my voice: Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.


How lonely sits the city

that once was full of people!

How like a widow she has become,

she that was great among the nations!

She that was a princess among the provinces

has become a vassal. (Lamentations 1:1)

Song: 156 “O Lord, hear my prayer”

Blessed is our God now and for ever and unto the ages of ages.


A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping for her children;

she refuses to be comforted for her children,

because they are no more. (Jer 31:15)


For these things I weep;

my eyes flow with tears;

for a comforter is far from me,

one to revive my courage;

my children are desolate,

for the enemy has prevailed. (Lamentations 1:16)

Song: 156 “Gott, hör mein Gebet”

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God, saying,

I called to the Lord out of my distress and he answered me;

out of the belly of destruction I cried, and you heard my voice.

You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me;

all your waves and your billows passed over me.

Then I said, I am driven away from your sight!

The waters closed in over me; the deep surrounded me;

weeds were wrapped around my head at the roots of the mountains.

I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever;

yet you brought me up from the Pit, O Lord my God.

As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord,

and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.

Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty.

But I will bring my prayers before you in thanksgiving:

Deliverance belongs to the Lord.

(From Jonah 2)


My eyes are spent with weeping;

my stomach churns;

my bile is poured out on the ground

because of the destruction of my people,

because infants and babes faint

in the streets of the city. (Lamentations 2:11)

Song: 156 “Entends ma prière”

Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately,

“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign?”

“Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;

There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines.

This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

"But about that day and hour, no one knows,

neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

"Beware. Keep alert. For you do not know when the time will come."

(From Mark 13: 3-4,6,8,32-33)

Remember this, O Lord,

Remember this, O Lord,

Do not let the downtrodden be put to shame.

Do not let the downtrodden be put to shame.

Rise up, O God.

Rise up, O God.


They cry to their mothers,

“Where is bread and wine?”

as they faint like the wounded

in the streets of the city,

as their life is poured out

on their mothers’ bosom.

(Lamentations 2:12)

Sing: 156 “O Lord, hear my prayer”

Prayers for people affected by the Japanese tragedy

Lord God of mercy and compassion:

Hear our prayer of incomprehension and confession.

The crust of your fragile world needs to split and shift if it is to last from generation to generation.

We confess we find disaster hard to understand and accept.

Immense waves sweep towns to dust and rubble.

We confess that the human tragedy is hard for us to bear.

Nuclear pollution threatens.

We confess our thoughtless use of energy.


Lord God of mercy and compassion:

Hear our prayer of incomprehension and confession.

Hear us, O Lord, as we join in prayer for all those caught up in the past week’s events in Japan.

Grant them the time and energy to mourn...

Grant them healing...

Grant them hope...

Grant them the courage to rebuild their lives...

Grant them, and us, the determination to reach out to one another in love.

Prayers for the people of Libya, Bahrain and all regions of the earth

Lord God of mercy and compassion:

Hear our prayer of incomprehension and confession.

Millions of people search and toil for the barest minimum to survive.

We confess that it is easier to think that we are not part of the solution.

Violence is chosen when people demand change and democracy.

We confess that our desire for peace is not matched by our peacemaking.


We pray for all those caught up in the turmoil of North Africa and the Middle East.

May your will be done on earth, O Lord, and your kingdom come in righteousness...

May justice and peace be revealed in the daily lives of nations and peoples...

And may the voice of the Prince of Peace be heard in every land.

Prayers for the enemy (from the Eastern Orthodox tradition)

O Christ, Our God, who prayed for those who crucified You,

and asked us, your servants, to pray for our enemies;

forgive those who hate and oppress us and, through Your Grace and love for humanity,

change their lives from doing wrong and wickedness

to love for their neighbours and life filled with goodness:

that none of them may perish because of us but rather they and we together

be saved through penitence; we pray You, Lord, hear us and have mercy.


We are longing for the day when the prophecy of Micah will come true, when "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."

The Lord’s Prayer (in our various languages)


The cross is the way of the lost.

The cross is the staff of the lame.

The cross is the guide of the blind.

The cross is the strength of the weak.

The cross is the hope of the hopeless.

The cross is the freedom of the slaves.

The cross is the water of the seeds.

The cross is the consolation of the bonded labourers.

The cross is the source of those who seek water.

The cross is the cloth of the naked.

The cross is the healing of the broken.

The cross is the peace of the church.

(St. Yared, Ethiopia)

The gong sounds

You are invited to leave the chapel in silence…

Photos by Nikos Kosmidis

And this is the prayer that was sung in Greek
My singing was a part of the Trisagion Prayers for the Departed we offer in the Orthodox Tradition in such occasions. I just felt the need to say some words of prayer for their souls. Here is the English translation of what you heard:
“Among the spirits of the righteous made perfect, give rest, O Savior, to the soul of Your servants. Preserve them in a life of blessedness which is from You, O Lover of mankind.
Within Your peace, O Lord, where all Your saints repose, give rest also to the souls of Your servants, for You alone are immortal.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. You are our God who descended into Hades and loosened the bonds of those who were in chains. Grant rest also, O Savior, to the souls of Your servants.”