Nagpur, 5th September 2008
Dear Ecumenical Colleagues,
Greetings from NCCI-Nagpur.
As a symbolic expression of solidarity with the suffering people, NCCI is inviting all its constituents, including Churches to dedicate 7th September 2008 Sunday Service to the people of Orissa. The WCC has encouraged the global ecumenical community to join in this prayer. The General Secretary of LWF and the General Secretary of WCC have appealed to the Prime Minister of India for effective intervention to address this serious concern.
A Special Prayer Order is prepared for this situation. We encourage local congregations to take 20 minutes in their Sunday service on 7th September 2008 and to follow this special prayer order. It is also significant that 21st September is the International Day of Prayer for Peace. You may continue to remember and dedicate Orissa, between 7th and 21st September 2008.
If you want to give a special focus to this issue, you can also plan for a special gathering on one of the days between 7th and 21st September wherein you can make use of this special prayer order as an ecumenical community at your place. It can be either in the Church or Sunday School, Youth Fellowship, Women’s Fellowship or any other significant forum of your Church / Organization.
The objective of this symbolic prayer order is:
a) To remember the people of Orissa who have been suffering due to communal tension
b) To be united during time of crisis
c) To have renewed Spirit for Faith Proclamation in such difficult situations
d) To encourage congregation members to take prudent action for the restoration of Peace in the country
You are free to adapt this text as per the need of your congregation/ organization. You can also develop your own prayer order if need be. Please share with us a copy of it. May this trying period strengthen our togetherness for Faith and Action.
Together in Mission
Executive Secretary, NCCI
Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation.
Faith Tested, Resilience Needed…
Stand Out! Stand Out for Orissa!!
A Special Prayer Order*
7th – 21st September 2008
A Special Prayer inviting all to join in solidarity with the people who have been the victims of the ongoing communal tension in Kandhamala, Phulbani , Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Bhawanipatna, Baragarh, Sambalpur , Sundergarh, Ganjam, Khordha , Bhadrak, Cuttack ….districts of Orissa
Call to worship
Leader: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Blessed is the nation, whose people are chosen for God’s inheritance.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, we are aware of the Faith challenges that our fellow believers are encountering at this moment. The lambs of Christ need reassurance for affirmation of their Faith and protection of their lives today. Especially People of Orissa are in need of our prayer support at this juncture. This worship service is dedicated to their Struggle and their Faith journey.
In this hour of challenge let us look to the Lord for wisdom and guidance for our Christian response.
Song of Submission:
An appropriate song could be chosen
Cry for Deliverance:
Leader: It is sad to learn that our fellow brothers and sisters in Orissa are facing a difficult time. We express our solidarity with the people and the church leaders, who due to the attack -have fled from their homes and taken refuge in the jungle for indefinite time. We remember their cry to the Almighty for deliverance.
As the Psalmist says: Hear my cry Oh God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you have heard my vows oh God. You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Increase the days of the king’s life , his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence for ever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Then will I ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day. (Psalm 61)
Scripture Reading and Reflection:
The leader can choose an appropriate passage, (as per the need of the congregation, commensurate with the given context in Orissa) and share his/ her reflection
Communique of Concern: (Leader)
Violence in Orissa is yet another incidence, which necessitates our attention for the need of good governance.
We are deeply concerned about the recent happenings in different parts of the state
The ongoing breach of Peace in Orissa and other places – specially due to communal tension – is an aberration to our constitutional values for Justice, Peace and holistic Development. It has led to the damage of property, displacement of people and loss of life. There is tension among common citizens. The fabric of social harmony among communities is severely damaged. Daily life in many places has been affected.
This demands serious attention at various levels. It is a mutual and collective responsibility. As we take note of this situation we also urge the state and central government authorities for necessary support for the restoration of Peace and tranquility.
For us, the Churches in India, this is a crucial period to remain alert and to curb out any unnecessary rumors and allegations that has any impact on the sensitive and vulnerable communities. The environment of fear and suspicion that has been prevailed is uncalled for. It must end at the earliest. Orissa and similar incidents, concern us because it is a question of our right to safe habitation in this country of ours, with fellow citizens. It is also a matter of our identity as Faith Communities and Faith Based Organisations.
We hope that as a community we will be able to practice Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence. We also expect the same level of sensitivity from our fellow travelers in other Faiths.
Believers in Christ are believers in Peace, in Just Peace! So let us diligently upheld this fundamental principle of our Faith Foundation.
May the Peace of the Lord that passes all understanding, rest and abide with us, now and for ever more. Amen.
Leader: Dear brothers and sisters, this trying period in our Faith Journey is also a call for self introspection. Let us therefore look within and confess before the Almighty, our limitations that has made us to act less than what Christ has taught us to be.
Almighty God! We confess that we have failed to understand the wider and manifold facets of your divinity. Time and again we have taken shelter in narrow fundamentalist attitude .We have not transcended our limitations to experience the other elements of the Truth. In doing so many times we have nurtured aversion towards people of other Faiths. We have been subject to the power and situation, that polarizes us from our neighbors.
All: Help us oh God to understand and accept our own limitations. Help us to transcend it, as we travel together with others, in our Faith Journey. Give us the wisdom so that we remain steadfast in our love and dedication to you . Grant us the discernment so that we are able to understand and respect – the many other ways – in which You manifest Yourself before the world.
Word of Comfort: (leader)
In situations such as the one in Orissa our heart is distressed. We ask ourselves whether our labor in the Lord’s vineyard is in vain. Let us look to the scripture for the resurgence of our trust in the Lord.
It says :
“… do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
(1 Peter 4: 12-14)
Proclamation of faith:(leader)
We experience and witness the Call of Christ amidst the pluralistic tradition and situation of our country. We are called out to be a People, who will be instrumental for the creation of a new world order. A world order, where Justice and Peace will be the corner stones.
We are drawn from innumerable diverse situations of caste, class, gender and race – into the liberative vision for a new Humanity – as shown by Christ. In this journey of ours, adversity has crossed our path. Each encounter with such adversity, is a test for the resilience of our Faith. A test for our love and commitment to Christ’s teaching.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or danger or sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who saved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in the creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Rom 8:35-39)
As we receive comfort in the word from the scripture let us take some time to think as to in what little way we can help the people of Orissa.
September Commitment for Solidarity and Peace:
(The leader needs to select 7 persons from different sections of the church who will declare the commitments. The congregation will respond to each commitment or pledge as mentioned below.)
1. Leader: My voice represents the people of Orissa , specially those who are facing adversity at this moment. From Kandhamala to Koraput , from Bargah to Cuttack, Orissa is affected due to communal disharmony and social unrest today .
Our people are in need of Prayer. They are wounded and disturbed- physically and psychologically. They are displaced, homeless and hungry. Many are separated from their family . Some have taken shelter in the jungle. Some have lost their lives. Others live under constant danger, breach of Peace and severe exclusion .
At this grave hour , we seek the solidarity and support from you all. We also seek the early restoration of Peace and Amity among citizens , in this part of the country.
All: Your anxiety and agony is justified. We are with you , in your sorrow and adversity . May Peace be prevailed and Justice be ensured to the suffering people.
2. Sunday School Student:
I am a Sunday School Student. I am deeply disturbed to know that many Christian children in Orissa today are not able to go to school because of the communal tension. They are not able to meet with their friends from other religions. I do not like such situation. In Sunday School we have learnt that Jesus loves all children, including children from other faiths.
I therefore take a pledge that I will be a good child of God. I will maintain good relationship with my friends from other faiths. We will not quarrel . We will maintain Peace and Harmony.
All: We bless your neat commitment . Go, and sow in the world – the seed of love . May there be many more pledges like yours , for the sustenance Life and Peace.
3. Youth (M): I am a Youth . I will be instrumental for the protection of the Church which is a symbolic expression of our existence as a Faith community, as People of God. In doing so I will seek guidance from the Almighty and advices from the elders .
All: Your dedication to the house of God is worthy. May the broken body of Christ heal the wounds of our Church and Society.
4. Youth (F): I am believer in the abundant Grace of God who accepts us with all our limitations. I will give my spare time for a constructive action, that we all can do together. I will be available for devising an action which is life affirming – to the suffering people in Orissa , North East India , Jammu and Kashmir and similar other places . I ask my fellow brothers and sisters to join me in this Mission.
All: Your concern for Peace in the wider society is Just and upright. Go, and be an instrument of change.
5. Diaconal Ministry: Each one of us are precious in the sight of God. We are also the conscientious citizens of this great country of ours . We have a Right to Life, Right to Dignity . The recent happenings and the spin of hatred, expressed through rumors and un established information is bothering me.
I therefore will make an attempt to know more about the facts , so that Peace is restored and Justice is done.
All : Your intention is noble. May the Truth be revealed .
6. Mission Department : At the 62 years of independence, I look forward to a State where Citizens have the freedom from fear, fear that suffocates life. I look forward to a State where majority have their voice, but minorities are also given Justice.
I will make an attempt to express my views and / or the sentiments of the community that I represent , through the media and other relevant forums.
All : As you shoulder this arduous task, may the Good Lord grant you the strength and perseverance .
7)Woman : I am woman of the Church. I understand that in Orissa today Christian Families are distressed, as believers and church leaders are attacked. Houses, Schools, Orphanages are damaged and set on fire. Fathers and mothers are hiding in the jungle. Children are remaining hungry.
At this moment of need I set aside a portion of rice , in remembrance of my fellow believers in Orissa. I also call upon you , sisters and brothers in my congregation, to share a small portion from the bounty – that you have received freely from the Almighty. Let us share it with the needy, to restore life.
Your commitment and concern is worthy. May it be accepted in the sight of the Lord. If any of the congregation members is interested to contribute their time, labor , knowledge, authentic information or any other resources available with them in terms of material or money , specially to help the distressed people in Orissa – they may contact the local priest or Head of the Church after this service. Subsequently your contribution can be passed on to the people of Orissa, through the NCCI.
Persons those who are interested to strengthen the collective effort of lobbying the government for Peace and Justice, they are also welcome. They can be in touch with the NCCI office in Nagpur.
Departure and Commission
As we depart from this place today and return to our daily routine, let us continue to remember Orissa in our prayer.
May the protection from the Good Lord rest and abide with us all, now and for ever more . Amen .