From Boston to Baghdad

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

PRAYER: (by Rev. Frederick William Schmidt, Professor of Theology, Perkins Seminary at Southern Methodist University)

“Gracious Lord, you are the lover of our souls. In times of crisis, like these horrible bombings, we are often overwhelmed by fear. Help us, Lord, to overcome that fear. Embrace those who have died. Heal those who have been injured. Comfort those who grieve. Sustain us and protect us. Keep us from the blind vengeance that deepens the spiral of violence. Give us the courage to search for justice tempered by truth. Father, teach us to live in light, walk in freedom, and stand firm in our resolve. In all things, Lord, teach us to live as yours, both in life and in death. We pray in the name of Jesus, the One who lived as yours in the shadow of the Cross, AMEN.”

SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)

Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4-5)

PRAYER FOCUS: Praying for the Wounded, From Boston to Baghdad

As Christians we know that our journey of faith will end well. Jesus Himself will make everything new.

This week our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who died in the Boston bombings. We lift up in prayer those who have suffered great loss, and those who have been injured and maimed. Let us also pray for those who have planned and carried out this heinous and hateful attack, that they may repent and seek God’s forgiveness.

Although The Monday Prayer originated in the United States, it is now read by a diverse, international audience numbering in the thousands. Accordingly, we are compelled to bring prayerful attention to other bombings—equally horrific, if not equally broadcast:

• The day before the Boston bombing, on 15 April 2013, a series of bombs went off across Iraq, including the cities of Kirkuk, Nasiriyah, and Baghdad, killing 32 and injuring over 200.
• Five days later, on 20 April 2013, a car bomb killed nine and injured more than 20 in Fallujah.
• On 17 April 2013, a bomb went off in Bangalore, India, leaving 16 injured.
• On 21 February 2013, two blasts tore through a crowded shopping area in the city of Hyderabad, India, killing 17 people and injuring at least 119.

That’s just some of the bombings so far this year. Terror attacks (including many bombings) have, sadly, become common in:

• Libya and Egypt
• Syria and Lebanon
• Israel
• Nepal
• Russia and Chechnya

Perhaps the Boston bombings are more shocking to us in the West because they represent an attack on an otherwise peaceful area as opposed to an act of violence in an unstable area. We don’t perceive the same level of threat in Boston that we might in, say, Baghdad.

But perceptions of public safety are driven in large part by news coverage. And that coverage has been disproportionate at best, especially in places like Iraq and India. Indeed, it seems to us that such unceasing, over-dramatized 24-hour news coverage is an insult to the dead, the injured, and the grieving. Furthermore, it raises uncomfortable questions over editorial integrity, whether news media communicate or omit certain facts in order to promote a hidden political agenda.

For example, much of the violence in the Middle East and Africa is targeted against our fellow Christians. That is rarely, if ever, reported as such. And yet it happens almost daily:

• Muslim Brotherhood militants attacked Coptic Christians in their church on 10 April 2013, killing five and wounding dozens of others.
• Christians from northern Nigeria, under near-constant attack by the Boko Haram terrorists who want to cleanse Nigeria of all Christians.
• Syrian Christians who were formerly protected under the Assad regime, are now being singled out as a threat to a “pristine and pure Islamic state” by the increasingly victorious Islamic rebels.

For example, much of the violence in Iraq is targeted against our fellow Christians. That is rarely, if ever, reported as such. Canon Andrew White, the “Vicar of Baghdad,” reports in his 2011 book, Faith Under Fire:

The threat to Christians in Iraq has been very severe. Last year (2010) alone, ninety-three members of my congregation were killed. The threat is particularly great for those who are new to Christianity. I baptized thirteen adults secretly last year. Eleven of them were dead within a week.

Yes, the bombings in Boston are an important news story. The deaths of innocent people at something as benign as a sporting event are tragic and senseless criminal acts. And yet, around the world there are other such acts no less tragic, no less senseless that repeatedly fail to rise to our attention. As brother and sister Christians, don’t we have a duty to respond to their tragedy, too?

In our Lectionary Gospel reading from John, our Lord Jesus issues one final command to his beloved followers: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” (John 13:34-35).

How do we do that? Like all such endeavors, we begin in prayer. We may never see the blessing, and they may never know the blessing’s source, but the Bible assures us that the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective (James 5:16).

It’s Monday Morning. Where in the world is there someone you could pray for today?

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

[TMP NOTE: Canon Andrew White’s new book, Father, Forgive: Reflections on Peacemaking, has just been released. For more information on St. George’s Church in Baghdad, or Canon Andrew’s efforts towards reconciliation and peace in the Middle East, please click on FRRME, or FRRME America.]

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