Prieres - 17 December 2012


PREPARATION: Invite those who will pray together to bring items to share as gestures of welcome for people trying to build a better life in a new place. Suggest personal hygiene items, climate-appropriate clothing, socks, etc. In the gathering space, place an empty suitcase, backpack or a cloth that can be wrapped into a bundle. As people gather, ask them to pack the bag with their donations. Later, deliver them to an assistance agency or directly to immigrants in need.

Reader 1: We whose heritage is the Judeo-Christian tradition are pre-disposed to care about immigrants because our ancestors in faith were once strangers in a foreign land. We trace our faith lineage back to people who felt God prompting them to venture beyond their familiar territory. In chapter 12 of the first book of our salvation history, the story tells us, “God said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. . . and ‘Abram [and Sara] went as the Lord directed. . .” By chapter 14 of Genesis, Abram and his tribe have set up camp in Mamre in the land of Canaan and their neighbors call them Hebrews which means “those who cross over.”
Our ancestors in faith were people who crossed borders in pursuit of a better life which they pursued as God’s plan for them. Their new neighbors, however, regarded them as intruders who should have stayed where they belonged.*

Reader 2: When, generations later, Egyptian authorities were so threatened by the number of boundary crossers among them that they made slaves of them, God was attentive to the Hebrews’ plight: “Their cry for help from the depths of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and was mindful of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God looked upon the Hebrews and knew. . .
God calls Moses to lead the boundary crossers to freedom, saying: I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt. I have heard their appeal to be free. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings. I mean to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that land to a land rich and broad. . . So come, I send you to lead them out. (Ex 2:23-3:10)

Reader 3: Let us pray with those who reluctantly leave or actually flee their homes due to circumstances that threaten their lives and/or spirits and that of those in their care:
• the 214 million men, women and children who are international migrants today;
• the more than 42 million people around the globe who have been forcefully displaced by violence, persecution, climate change, dire poverty and natural disasters;
• the 35.4 million refugees, asylees and internally displaced persons currently in the care of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees;
• those whom you may know by name . . .

ALL-Antiphon: In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn breaks for us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death
 and guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

Psalm 18
(excerpts)[alternate sides or invite individuals to take turns praying the verses of Ps. 18]
[OR, if you prefer, sing Be Not Afraid by Bob Dufford, SJ which is based on Isaiah 43:2-3]

I love you God, my Strength; you are my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer.
I proclaim your praises; I am safe from my enemies.

The breakers of death surged round about me, the destroying floods overwhelmed me.
In my distress I cried out to you, my God.
You heard my voice; my cry reached your ears.

You reached out and grasped me; you drew me out of the deep waters.
You rescued me from my mighty enemy, from my foes who were too powerful for me.
They attacked me in the day of my calamity, but you, my God, came to my support.
You set me free in the open and rescued me because you love me.

You indeed, O Lord, give light to my lamp; you brighten the darkness about me.
With your aid I run against an armed band, and by your help I leap over a wall.

You, Gracious God, shield all who take shelter in you.

ALL-Antiphon: In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn breaks for us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death
 and guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

Reader 4
: Let us pray for immigrants and for ourselves whom God sends with them: 
  Compassionate God, you want the release of those bound unjustly. 
 All: Help us collaborate to break the yoke of poverty and violence that oppresses your people.

Reader 4: Liberating God, you make a way in the wilderness
 All: (gesturing toward the suitcase/bundle) May we continue to find ways to share our bread with the hungry and clothe those who left so much behind.

Reader 4: God our Shelter, you want your people to live in safety and thrive.
 All: Help us help immigrants rebuild their lives in security and welcome.

Reader 4
: Christ, you are light for those groping in the darkness.  
 All: Help us be your light dispelling systemic injustices and showing paths
  for creating a world order grounded in right relationships
  so your people and the whole of creation can thrive. (based on Isaiah 58:6-12)
ALL: In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn breaks for us, 
 to shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death
 and guide our feet across boundaries and into the way of peace. AMEN
*Cf. Freedom Journeys, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow & Rabbi Phyllis Berman,

Chapter 9.