The Caribbean and North American Area Council (CANAAC) is calling on member churches in its region, as well as throughout the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), to dedicate Wednesday, 20 January, as a day of prayer.
“I have been hurting for the US, a nation wrestling with riots at its Capitol while being overrun with COVID, which itself seems to have slipped to the back burner as white supremacy parades,” said Angela Martins, CANAAC convenor. “In this respect I feel ever so strongly in this call to prayer for all of us in this region and across WCRC for such a time as this.”
“We are a world in distress. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to afflict virtually every part of the inhabited earth. As the WCRC vice-president in this region, I am particularly mindful of the coronavirus situation in Canada, the US, and many parts of the Caribbean. I am also acutely aware of the political unrest in the United States and the violent incursion into the US Capitol on January 6,” said Lisa Vander Wal of the Reformed Church in America.
“The US continues to roil because of continued racial injustice and white supremacy in our midst, accentuated in the aftermath of the US elections in November,” said Vander Wal. “As we look ahead to the transition to a new administration, we are concerned that the violence will continue and will impede a peaceful transfer of power. ‘O Lord, we cry out to you in our distress; O Lord, hear our prayer!’”
“What is happening around us and in the world is serious whether with the pandemic, or with the riots in the USA, or with values shaken around the world, or with injustice in providing the vaccine to the rich and powerful, while those who cannot afford it will wait in their suffering,” said Najla Kassab, WCRC president. “Praying together is a great source of healing, and joining a body of 100,000,000 members around the world will matter in the eyes of God and will strengthen and deepen our communion together.”
“In Lebanon starting today we are in total lockdown for the next 10 days as the hospitals have reached full occupancy,” said Kassab. “We pray for the sick, the discouraged, the worried, the many who feel that their life did stop. Lord give us strength and heal all those who need healing.”
“We are mourning the losses of those we love. We are mourning the ways in which communities that are marginalized are being further inundated by the suffering from this virus,” said Karen Georgia A. Thompson, associate general minister for wider church ministries and operations of the United Church of Christ. “We are mourning the presence of policies that are not responsive. We are mourning the lack of humanity in decisions being made as we call for attention to quality health care for all.”
“Amid the cries of this moment, I hear the plea of some leaders that, ‘this is not who we are.’ The sad truth however, is that this is who we are. We are sinful people,” said Colin Watson, Christian Reformed Church in North America executive director and CANAAC co-convener. “The Bible reminds us that we need the Lord to help us to be different. It is only by God’s grace, and through his incarnation and resurrection, that he gives us the ability to be different. We must affirmatively act differently and pursue his justice so that we can be the true meaning of salt and light.”
“Our society is overwhelmed by anxiety. It is shadowed by apprehension about the future which can play havoc with the values and morality of the present,” said Joy Abdul-Mohan, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Trinidad and Tobago. “And so we need this good news that we are not alone. God has offered a hope that is lasting. One glad day the darkness will vanish. Is there a more timely word that can be spoken than this?”
“What does it mean to love your neighbour in the context of COVID-19?” asked Michael Blair, general secretary of the United Church in Canada. “As we continue to seek to be good neighbours, let us join in prayer for healthcare workers and other caregivers who are working tirelessly to attend to those impacted by COVID-19, pray for our government leaders as they struggle to make wise decisions, and pray that God would give us the wisdom to be good neighbours.”
“Jamaica is currently experiencing community spread and the infection rate is increasing rapidly. There have been a range of effects caused by the implications of COVID-19, including households losing their financial safety nets, school closures, and restrictions on movement,” said Norbert Stephens, general secretary of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. “We urge all our sisters and brothers in Christ to join us in prayer for the issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, for those existing outside of the social security net, for our children and educators who are required to adjust to the new normal for the delivery and learning environment, for those suffering emotionally, for those without access to supplies and information, for our health practitioners and our first responders, may they hear and experience the Christ whose presence, provisions, and power are assured.”
J. Herbert Nelson, II, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), noted the near 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States as well as the “planned insurrection at the US Capitol, which took place against our government and every American citizen. As people of faith, we must take a stand together and deal with the reality of racism, in all its forms. We must not respond with fear or skepticism but with the only thing that will get us through: Love for God and neighbor” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
“In Canada we are grateful for the promise of vaccines and their availability; we are grateful for those political leaders who have taken this pandemic seriously,” said Matthew Sams, chair of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. “We are increasingly concerned about the limits of healthcare in our larger centres as infectious cases are six times the number from the spring. Yet our hearts turn to rural, remote, and Indigenous communities that often lack basic medical facilities; and our hearts turn to people suffering other illnesses, some deadly, who cannot receive care.”
“We are a Communion committed to justice, and it only right that when our members are suffering, we reach out to them with support and through prayer,” said Chris Ferguson, WCRC general secretary. “Throughout our WCRC family we see our churches both responding to the realities of COVID and all the social and economic fallout that it brought but also reinvigorating their life and witness in response to the imperatives of the Accra Confession and the call for an economy of life.”
“There is a path of hope opening wide for us as the world emerges from this unprecedented disaster,” said Ferguson. “As we mourn our loses, as we strive to return to daily life, let us strive to not return to normal but to a world transformed through God’s grace and our stewardship of hope.”
“We invite our sisters and brothers of CANAAC and around the whole of the Communion to join in prayer on Wednesday, 20 January,” said Martins, “and then to continue to pray and support each other in the months to come.”
Please pray for:
Holy God, you are with us in our suffering and sorrow. Dry our tears. Bind our broken hearts. Give us strength for the journey that lies ahead. Continue with us and provide all we need. Grant us hope in our despair, as we wait and hope in you.
O Lord God we turn to you with humble hearts knowing that our portion is larger than most in this nation and in the world. Change our hearts so that our eyes turn to those who have poor access to healthcare. Grant us hearts impatient for justice for others yet patient to endure curfews, lockdowns, and uncertainty. May we be your angels of mercy in this time.
The prayer above comes from prayers written by Karen Georgia Thompson (United Church of Christ) and Matthew Sams (Presbyterian Church in Canada).