September 7

Reflection

We are a human family populating this planet. Our origins, our evolution, our shared genetic history, our consciousness and memory make us one. We are meant to be connected and to live in peace and relationship. Yet, in spite of our advanced development we have not yet learned to resolve conflict without violence. As a community of nations, we are too divided by economic interests and ideologies to join together at a time when our brothers and sisters in one nation are suffering painful and oppressive division and the innocent are the victims. We paralyze one another by holding positions that prevent unified efforts toward nonviolent solutions. As once again we see preparations to use violence as the only solution, let us not try again to resolve violence with violence but turn together to the One in whom all are one and ask for wisdom.

Prayer

Living God, our world is broken-hearted by the atrocity of chemical weapons being used in Syria, killing children, women, and men indiscriminately. And our hearts grieve no less for the many tens of thousands killed and millions displaced by the civil war there. We pray for peace, God of peace: not just the cessation of conflict, but a new day of reconciliation, civility, and collaboration for the common good … in the Middle East, and around the world.

We also pray for the United States, whose leaders are contemplating military strikes in retaliation for the atrocity, to punish those who ordered it, and to deter those who might plan similar atrocities in the future. We acknowledge that our leaders are trying to do what is needed and right, based on the understanding they have. But on this day, as millions of us around the world pray, we ask for greater wisdom, greater understanding, greater foresight, so that we can find new, better, and non-violent ways to achieve lasting and profound peace.

We know from bitter experience that “our” violence promises to end “their” violence, but in the end, it only intensifies vicious cycles of offense and revenge. We also know from bitter experience that inaction and passivity also aid and abet evil. So on this day, we seek your wisdom, for a better way forward … a new way that we do not yet see. We Americans sense that our nation is on the verge of rethinking its role in the world. In this moment of rethinking, we also pray for guidance. Help us learn from past mistakes, and help us imagine better possibilities for the future. In this time of political tension and turmoil – not only between, but within our political parties – may your Spirit move like the wind and give us a fresh vision of what can be, so that we do not repeat old, tired, and destructive cycles of what has been. May the wisdom and ways of Jesus, upon whom your Spirit descended guide us now – to a wise and responsible role as good neighbors in our world. Amen.
Brian D. McLaren

Action


If possible, join with people who will gather in your local area to pray and fast for a nonviolent resolution to the crisis in Syria.

Suggested Reading

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus replied,”This kind can only be driven out by prayer and fasting.”
Mark 9:28-29

From the depths of my heart, I want to express my closeness in prayer and solidarity with all the victims of this conflict (and) all those who are suffering, especially the ­children, and ask them to keep their hopes for peace alive.
Pope Francis

I condemn with particular force the use of chemical weapons. I still have in my mind and heart the terrible images of the past days.
Pope Francis

We are anguished by the terrible suffering of the Syrian people and again affirm the need for dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict that has wrought so much devastation.
USCCB

We urge you not to take reckless measures as you have the power to steer the United States from the path of war to that of diplomacy.
Deccan Herald

A political solution is the only right way out for the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem from the root.
China Daily

To me, the central question isn’t, “What are the risks of cruise missile strikes on Syria?” I grant that those risks are considerable, from errant missiles to Hezbollah retaliation. It’s this: “Are the risks greater if we launch missiles, or if we continue to sit on our hands?” Let’s be humble enough to acknowledge that we can’t be sure of the answer and that Syria will be bloody whatever we do. We Americans are often so self-absorbed as to think that what happens in Syria depends on us; in fact, it overwhelmingly depends on Syrians
Nicholas Kristoff, The New York Times

A threat of full-scale lawlessness looms large, portending to engulf the country in total anarchy and wanton destruction. What happens in Syria in the weeks and months ahead will profoundly bear upon the security and well-being of the entire region, and possibly beyond. We must not allow the shadows to lengthen, and mayhem to spread like a contagion.
Vuk Jeremic, President of the UN General Assembly.

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