Last night our church, the Highland Church of Christ, hosted a prayer vigil for the Syrian refugee crisis. Many local congregations participated. The order of the service:
Welcome / Why We Are GatheredI'm proud of my church for taking the lead in bringing our local churches together to stand in solidarity, in both prayer and action, with the Syrian Christians and all those who have been displaced, killed, enslaved or traumatized by the Syrian civil war.
Derran Reese / Highland Church of Christ
Prayer of Confession for Our Silence and Our Turning Away
Rev. Susanna Cates / Heavenly Rest Episcopal Church
Prayer for the Millions Suffering in the Midst of Conflicts and Wars Around the Globe
Brittany McDonald / Pioneer Drive Baptist Church
Prayer for Christians in Syria and Iraq
Fr. Phillip LeMasters / St. Luke’s Orthodox Church
Prayer in Syriac from the Ancient Church
Kelli Bryant Gibson / Abilene Christian University
Prayer for Enslaved Women and Children
Summer and Ava Walters (Mother and daughter) / Highland Church of Christ
Prayer for Refugees
Felicia Hopkins / St. Paul United Methodist
Prayer for Churches, Nations, Communities, Individuals to Welcome / Litany of Refugees
Susanna Lubanga / International Rescue Committee
Prayer for Our Enemies
Richard Beck / Highland Church of Christ
A Call to Action
Darryl Tippens / Highland Church of Christ
Jonathan Storment / Highland Church of Christ
As you can see from the order of service I was asked to lead the prayer for our enemies, ISIS in particular. After a moment of silence I took off my sandals, knelt and then offered this prayer:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we tremble before this cup,
give us the strength to drink it,
this: our prayer for our enemies.
And we confess
that we are but dust,
we do not have the strength to carry this burden.
So fill us with your Holy Spirit.
May your Spirit intercede for us in this moment.
For nothing draws us to this prayer.
And we confess
that we kneel before you
more out of obedience than grace.
Obedience to the one who commanded us to love our enemies
and pray for those who persecute us.
We pray for our enemies
because the love of Christ compels us.
Father, we pray for our enemies. We pray for ISIS.
And in doing so we face in this moment
the terrible mystery of our faith.
The stumbling block.
The scandal of the cross.
Give us your Spirit, Father,
so that we will not falter in this, our great test, to carry the cross.
Give us the strength to carry the burden of this love.
We pray for our enemies. We pray for ISIS.
We pray for their repentance, their conversion and their salvation.
We pray, dear Father, that you carry these words, through your Spirit, to our enemies.
We pray that these words pierce their hearts and trouble their souls.
Father, may your Spirit move in the hearts of our enemies
to hear these words:
Dear brothers, hear the Word of the Lord.
No more. No more.
Dear brothers, repent. Repent and believe the Good News that the Kingdom of God is in your midst.
Dear brothers, the Kingdom of God is there in the faces of those you kill and rape.
Dear brothers, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom you seek, is there weeping, pleading in front of you.
Dear brothers, can you see it?
Can you see through the lies of the Evil One?
Dear brothers, my God, your God, the God of Abraham, is a God of peace and love.
So no more, dear brothers, no more. Do not do this terrible thing.
Repent, and believe the Good News.
We are all children of God.
We are all brothers and sisters.
For God is a God of love.
Father in Heaven, carry these words,
by your Spirit
carry these words to our enemies.
Wound them with our love and yours.