Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Unitarian Universalism

Canadian Unitarian Universalists marching to promote global climate change action

Unitarian Universalism

Today during our prayer for peace, we will consider a religion with a strong tradition of promoting peace: Unitarian Universalism. This religion, with about 800,000 adherents worldwide has resulted from the 1961 merger of Unitarianism and Universalism.  Although based on ancient ideas, both traditions emerged in the Anglo-American world in the 18th century. Unitarians rejected the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ, in favor of emphasizing the Oneness or Unity of God. Universalists meanwhile focused on the belief in universal salvation — rejecting the idea of hell and believing that everyone would eventually be redeemed.  Both these views were considered radical in their time and Unitarians and Universalists coupled their radical theologies with important social reform activism:  promoting causes in the 19th century including the abolition of slavery, the women’s movement, and the temperance movement.

More recently Unitarian Universalists have been champions of the LGBT rights movement.  Unitarian Universalists were the first major religion to bless same-sex unions, before any country had legalized same-sex marriages. Unitarian Universalism is non-credal and non-dogmatic, emphasizing the worth of all persons, and is inclusive and supportive of a wide diversity of individual beliefs and practices.  Among their Seven Principles and Purposes, is an affirmation of “the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”

As we ponder the heritage and activism of the Unitarian Universalist traditions, we in Community of Christ seek to hear the call to activism on behalf of our own Enduring Principle of the Pursuit of Peace.

Prayer for Peace — Ray Hogue, Joplin, Missouri

O Lord, let us sense peace in the beauty of our worship. Let us speak peace in our interpersonal relationships. Let us hear peace in the midst of confusion. Let us feel peace when we are touched by the Holy Spirit. Let us hope for peace in the seas of hopelessness. Let us sue for peace in the humane treatment of our little ones. Let us respect peace in the wise lives of our elders. Let us affirm peace as we accept the struggles of our youth. Let us honor peace by being ethical in all walks of life. Lord, let us follow peace to whatever person, situation or cross it leads us. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we pray.  Amen.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan monks create a sand mandala.

Tibetan Buddhism

This year as we pray for peace each week, we are learning about and pondering the many religious traditions that span the globe.  Today our thoughts turn to Tibetan Buddhism.  Buddhism is a non-theistic religion whose teachings and practices are traced back to Siddhartha Gautama — commonly known as the Buddha (or “the awakened one”)  who developed a system of beliefs aimed at allowing individuals to end their suffering by eliminating ignorance and cravings.  These teachings are encapsulated in the “Four Noble Truths” of the Buddha, which are: (1) All things and states are unsatisfying, (2) nevertheless we crave and cling to these things and states and are continuously reborn, (3) if we cease craving and clinging, we won’t be reborn, (4) we can achieve an end to the unsatisfactory conditions by following the Buddhist path of behaving decently, not acting on impulses, practicing mindfulness and meditation.

According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.  Buddhism came to Tibet a millennium later and ultimately became established as the state religion in 8th century CE.  Since that time, it has developed some distinct characteristics from other branches of the religion.  The most famous of these is the system of incarnate lamas  successors to specific lineages of teachings, trained from a young age by the students of their predecessors.  The 14th Dalai Lama is the most famous of these, known for his lifelong advocacy of the Tibetan people, for which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

As we learn about the many, diverse belief systems and traditions of the world, we desire to be agents of change, promoting peace through mutual understanding.

Prayer for Peace — Gloria Mitchell, Prince Albert, SK, Canada

God, we have set this time apart to come before you with our songs and prayers of peace.

We have called you by many names: Exalted, Most High, Creator, and Holy, but whatever the name we give you pales in comparison to the works you have wrought.  You have created vast numbers of people and things we really don't know.  This awareness of our limits, our lack of understanding all you are, is reflected through our faith in your goodness and vast love.

God, we recognize our similarities when we know all people strive for a good life in whatever way they can. Creator, please bless our similarities and more specifically our differences.  Help us build bridges of love and understanding.  Help us come to fully appreciated and incorporate your greatest commandment of all: to love one another.

Our prayer this day is for peace throughout the world and peace for all people. We pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Ethiopian Orthodox

Illuminations from a Medieval Ethiopian Orthodox Bible.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

This year as we pray for peace each week, we are learning about and pondering the many religious traditions that span the globe.  Today our thoughts turn to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the few pre-Colonial Christian churches in sub-Saharan Africa.  The church has traditionally been traced to the conversion by the Apostle Philip of a eunuch official in the service of Queen Candace of Ethiopia, as recorded in the Book of Acts 8:26-27.

Christianity was widely established in the Axumite Kingdom of Ethiopia as early as the 4th century AD through the efforts of St. Frumentius.  In the many early controversies over the nature of Christ, the Ethiopian Orthodox church sided with the Coptic Church in Egypt, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, and the Indian Orthodox Church.  While Greek Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christianity asserts that Christ has two natures (He is at once wholly human and wholly Divine), the Ethiopian Orthodox and related churches assert that Christ has but “Once Singular Nature”.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has its own canon that includes the Book of Jubilees, the Ethiopic Book of Enoch, and the three Ethiopic Books of the Maccabees.  This tradition is famous for a dozen monolithic churches, carved entirely out of solid rock.  The church also claims to be the keepers of the Ark of the Covenant, which is said to be located within the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in the town of Axum.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has about 45 million members, the majority of whom live in Ethiopia, while smaller numbers live throughout the world, including here in Canada.

As we ponder the many, diverse, rich and historic traditions that comprise the body of Christ, we desire that knowledge and awareness of diverse distinctions may spread along with the cause of peace.

Prayer for Peace — Cheryl Peters, Sandusky, Michigan

May the peace of God be in you, to lead you every day. May the peace of God go out from you, to light another’s way. May the peace of God move all around to all nations of the earth.

May God in heaven be overjoyed as peace has been given birth. And may God’s peace stretch wider like bud to blooming flower. May the world be blessed with unity as we pray for peace this hour. And may Christ who blazed the pathway and showed examples clear, give each of us a reason to hold to peace, so dear. May we make the world a better place, a place of truth and peace. May the witness of our lives assure that love will never cease. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 5, 2015

World Religions Prayer for Peace Weekly Calendar

Here our 2015 World Religions Prayer for Peace Weekly Calendar.  Each week we'll post materials for giving information about the individual religion or denomination here at  Learn much, much more about world religions at the Encounter World Religions Centre.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Prayer for Peace — Quakers

A circle of Friends worship together in silent contemplation.

Quakers (Religious Society of Friends)

Our mission initiatives include developing disciples to serve and promoting peace on earth.  We work toward both goals as we learn about the traditions, ideas, practices, and history of diverse people throughout the world — many of whom are also neighbors in our own communities.  Every week in our congregation, we ponder one of the world’s many diverse religious expressions and offer a prayer for peace for peoples of the world.
This week we contemplate the Quakers.  The people commonly known under the nickname Quakers refer to themselves as “Friends” and their many different denominations and expressions are collectively known as the “Religious Society of Friends.” The movement emerged in the English Reformation in the mid-17th century, as one of many organizations who desired to take reform much further than the established Church of England was prepared to go.

Quakers stressed the importance of a direct relationship with God acquired through reading and studying the Bible and through direct spiritual experience.  They reject creeds and recognize a universal priesthood of all believers, which meant that early on women were able to serve as Quaker ministers.  Quakers are a peace church with a long, proud commitment to causes of social justice, including the eradication of slavery.  In this way, the Quakers have served as a model for our own goal in Community of Christ of becoming a peace church.

Today there are about 359,000 adult members of Quaker congregations throughout the world. Although the Society of Friends have always been relatively few in number, they have had great impact in the promotion of justice and peace.

Prayer for Peace — Wallace B. Smith

Eternal God, present in all of life that is significant and holy, hear us now as we lift our voices in thanksgiving and praise, in confession, and in supplication.

We give thanks for your word of encouragement that enables us to face each new day.  We also thank you for your word of faithfulness that gives us hope for the future.  And we give thanks for your word of guidance that directs us as we seek to better understand your ways.

Gracious God, deliver us from the shallowness of our commitments, from the thousand ways our strivings separate us from each other.  And most of all, deliver us from our fears that alienate us from you.

O God of faith, hear our prayer as we light our flame of peace and love at this hour and in this sacred place.  May the flame here kindled grow within each heart, that all may sense more fully your spirit in the warmth of our concern for one another.  Refresh us when we grow weary of opposing injustice and oppression, terrorism and war, and send us forth from this time of prayer for peace strengthened to bind up the wounds that afflict our world. Grant us peace, O God — not the peace of slumber, but of quiet confidence in the triumph of your word.  For the sake of all your creation, we pray.   Amen.

Prayer for Peace — Sikhism

Note: To promote awareness of the Encounter World Religions Centre and to further its goal of sharing information about the beliefs and practices of the world's diverse faiths, Toronto Congregation in 2015 is departing from the World Church's daily calendar focusing on the various nations of the world.  Instead, we will be providing materials for a Weekly Prayer for Peace focused on individual world religions and denominations in order to promote peace through awareness of these diverse faith communities.  We are beginning our calendar January 4, 2015, by learning about Sikhism.  (The prayer portion will continue to make use of prayers composed across Community of Christ and submitted on the World Church website.)

Sikh boys and girls at at youth camp.


Good morning.  The Pursuit of Peace on Earth is among our core missions as a church.   One way we pursue peace is through learning about the history, practices, beliefs, and customs of diverse people throughout the world — many of whom are also neighbors in our own communities.  Every week in our congregation, we offer a prayer for peace for peoples of the world.  This year, we are learning about the world’s different religious traditions, which we will consider during our prayer for peace each week.

This week we explore Sikhism.  Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in Punjab in the Indian subcontinent during the 15th century by a guru (or teacher) named Nanak.  Guru Nanak established the system of the “Langar,” or communal kitchen, where everyone is welcome to eat free meals, sitting together on the floor without regard to caste or class in order to demonstrate the need to share and have equality between all people.  This generous practice is one of many ways Sikhs challenge India’s traditional caste system.  There are around 30 million adherents to the religion, known as Sikhs.  Three quarters live in Punjab, where they form a majority of the population and the rest are spread around the world, with large populations in Canada.

Sikhs are distinguished by a number of distinctive practices including a prohibition on cutting or shaving their hair, wearing turbans, and carrying a ceremonial dagger. In North America in the wake of the 9/11 attacks this “foreign-seeming” appearance resulted in attacks Sikhs and Sikh temples by ignorant people who confused Sikhs with Muslims.  Sikhs likewise face persecution and discrimination in India, especially with the rise of Hindu nationalism.  In 1984, after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, more than 8,000 Sikhs were massacred in India.

As we learn about Sikhism and all the other religions of the world, we hope to fight ignorance with knowledge and to further the cause of peace.

Prayer for Peace — by Evelyn Masek

Creating God,

You who created us of one color within and many colors without, we come in praise and appreciation of our sameness and also our differences.  We know your love for each of us is the same as your love for all of us. We long for peace and harmony in our lives but there are so many things that separate us:  race, religion, wealth, poverty, sickness.  We need your help that we might grow in the kind of love that causes us to practice the art of not only listening but hearing one another; to listen with our hearts and not just our ears, to give and receive respect; to be thoughtful and caring.

Teach us to hurt when others hurt and rejoice when they rejoice.  It is only in sharing that we will grow in understanding.  Peace at home and throughout the world revolves around understanding and mutual respect.

We desire to plant the seeds of peace by our words and deeds so that one day we may realize a bountiful harvest of goodness and earthly love. We thank you for blessing us with your unconditional love that promises us a place of peace that passes all human understanding.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.