Feel free to download the PDF and share with your congregation during NCC Impact Week’s Read-in, or at any time to highlight concerns regarding nationwide trends toward banning books.
Scriptures, Prayers, and Meditations
National Council of Churches in Korea Korean Christian Federation
O Lord, how long shall we continue to keep the division on the Korean Peninsula?
When will peace come to the painful and broken land of Korea?
When will the South and the North lay down the weapons aimed at each other, hold each other’s hand, and sing a song of peace?
When will you lift the thick shadow of division?
O Lord, we have been living in pain of division for a long time.
Following the brotherly Korean War with its incalculable number of deaths, countless families were separated by the war and many people lost their livelihood.
The forces of the division system are the major stumbling blocks in the path toward peace and reunification while military tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula in the midst of mistrust.
Our hearts break when we look at the rusty barbed wire.
O Lord, grant your healing grace to those suffering from the wounds of division.
Help us to stop demonizing each other but instead to pursue peace and coexistence.
Empower us to take down the rusty barbed wire and the desires of all who block the way of peace.
Grant us love that encourages us to overcome suspicion and hatred.
Help us to discover the truth in ourselves that we can become agents of peace and reconciliation through your grace.
O Lord, have mercy on us in your compassion, that churches in the North and the South may gladly respond to your love in a faithful commitment to the journey of peace. Give us the strength and resilience to go beyond division and work together for peace through dramatic improvement and development of inter-Korean relations. May we rekindle the hopes for peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.
O Lord, 77 years of division, there shall be no more tears and pain.
We can no longer be bound in heavy chains of war and conflict.
We cry to you for help, Lord; may we, your people, have open eyes to see and open ears to hear your presence among us along the journey toward peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen.
The NCC joins the Nigerian Baptist Convention for prayers after the massacre at a Catholic church in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Baptist Convention is a long-time member of the Committee on the Uniform Lessons Series (CUS) and they have alerted us to this attack as well as to others on Christians in the past few weeks. A representative has told us, “It is tough being a Christian in Nigeria today. We leave home in the morning not having hope of coming back home.”
Rev. Dr. Tammy Wiens, NCC Director of Christian Education and Faith Formation and who also directs the work of CUS, reflected on the tragic news, saying, “I am blessed by a deep friendship with colleagues from the Nigerian Baptist Convention through our shared work in developing the CUS outlines used to develop Sunday School curriculum both in the US and abroad. Hearing that our brothers and sisters in Christ are victims of kidnappings, vandalism, and murder is even more heart-wrenching when you have a personal relationship with those who report living under a constant threat of violence. Our hearts are heavy with grief upon receiving word of this attack, and the call for prayer out of Nigeria is yet another reminder of the suffering that many in this world endure. Our hearts unite in prayer and wrap around our neighbors near and far.”
We will continue to monitor with alarm the growing, lethal violence against Christians in Nigeria. Credible sources are beginning to characterize the violence as genocide including Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Jubilee Campaign for Religious Freedom, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), International Christian Concern (ICC) and the Lift Up Now grassroots foundation led by Southern Baptist Nigeria native Adeniyi Ojutiku.
Almighty God, there are no words sufficient for the horror of this act. We weep for these dear, innocent ones just as Jesus wept for His friend, Lazarus. Comfort all who ache with overwhelming pain from this evil act. Give us the strength to meet their needs in this moment and be with all who struggle through this extended time of grief. Give us the courage to take bold steps to do all that we can to make sure this never happens again. Amen
Gracious Savior, we come boldly to the throne of grace to thank you. You lived a sinless life and took on sin for our sakes. You took the worse the world had to offer and transformed it into salvation for the whole world.
We pray that as we follow in your footsteps again through street filled with jeers and rejection; as we stand silently with you before your accusers; as we feel the thorns pierce our foreheads and nails impale our hands and feet, that we see once again the significance of your suffering and sacrifice. Here is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. God so loved us, that he gave his son as a sacrifice to take away our sins and through him we might be saved. Thank you transforming the cross, a symbol of death and defeat into a symbol of hope and salvation. Now, empower us to live resurrected lives, Amen.
-Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, African Methodist Episcopal Church
Gracious and Merciful God,
We come before you on this “Silent Saturday” standing in the gap between the trauma of the crucifixion and the hope of what is to come. We are exhausted and depleted from more than two years of isolation, of not being able to freely move in shared spaces without caution. We are mourning the losses of so many while negotiating the unwelcome changes that this pandemic exile has brought to us even as we desperately try to embrace the new – new opportunities, new ways of being, new ways of caring for one another, new ways of doing life together. Help us, O Lord.
We are triggered by yet another unnecessary death by police of an unarmed Black man, this time in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We are weary of the ways in which racial hatred and vitriol continue to erode the fabric of this nation, making the promise of America seem to be a dream deferred for far too many. We pray for the loved ones of Patrick Lyoya and all those who know the pain they are experiencing right now. We pray for our nation to break this confluence of systemic racism, inhumanity and violence by police who are supposed to protect and serve. We pray for Black and Brown communities, too often plagued by violence and many of whom believe we are not safe, including and especially with law enforcement. Lord, have mercy.
We lament the wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia and conflicts throughout our global village. Help us to know how to pray, how to live and how to act so that these wars will end and lives will be spared. Help us to not only look out for our own interests but for the interests of others. There is so much unnecessary loss of life and destruction. Give us the kind of compassion and empathy that will make these wars end and life to flourish in places and spaces death and devastation once occupied. Hear our prayer, O Lord.
We pray for beloved community and a more just society. We ask, O Lord, for Your mercy to reach us in these moments of uncertainty and the suffering that comes from living in an unjust society fractured by white supremacy, toxic masculinity, polarization, greed, and selfish ambition. We pray for our collective well-being and ask You to restore, refresh and renew us because so much has been lost. Grant us Your peace, O God, and embolden us to work for transformative justice in our world that honors You and uplifts Your people. Strengthen us, O Lord.
We praise You for covering and keeping us, O God, throughout this challenging season of our lives, and give You thanks for the reminder that the last breath is not the final say. As we reflect on this Silent Saturday and sit with the grief of Good Friday and what we’ve endured in our own lives, we also hope in the victory that is assured. Trouble don’t last always. Hope does not disappoint us. Joy does come in the morning…
In Jesus’ name we lift up this prayer. Amen.
-Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, NCC Chief Operating Officer
During the season of Lent, as we prepared for this moment when we contemplate your Passion, our hearts were filled with repentance. Indeed, these ancient words of prayer, in one form or another, echoed within us: ‘Take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give, rather, the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to your servant. And grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brothers and sisters.’
In these days of Holy Week, when we now commemorate your death on the cross and burial in the tomb, and the mystery of your salvation, our hearts burst with these prophetic words: ‘The dead shall arise. Those in the tombs shall awake. All those on earth shall greatly rejoice.’
And as we anticipate our celebration of your Resurrection, we know our hearts will be filled with these joyous words of song: ‘Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!’
May our celebration of Easter be filled with love, joy, and praise! Blessed are you, O our God, and to you do we give glory!
-Dr. Tony Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary, Faith and Order and Interfaith Relations
On this Holy Thursday, we ask for your forgiveness especially when we’ve acted like the disciples of old, letting pride for placement and lust for power to slip into our lives. Forgive us when we’ve betrayed you or sold our faith for more or less than 30 pieces of silver.
Help us to see the bread broken for our wholeness, again. Help us to see the wine shed for our forgiveness, again. Help us today to follow your example of humility and service. May we grab the towel instead of reaching for a title.
Gather us at the table again.
Empower us to live as people who serve, give and love. Guide us to be the kind of disciples who stay awake even in dark and troubling times. Strengthen us to “..be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15: 58 NSRVue) Amen
-Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, African Methodist Episcopal Church