Sunday, January 4, 2015

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.

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