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DECEMBER, 2013: "REFLECTIONS FROM THE BISHOP"
Also available: Bishop's article as a Word document, for download (below)
NOW AVAILABLE HERE.
DECEMBER, 2013 Reflections from the Bishop
How can I help?
We are still coming to grips with the scope of the disaster in the Philippines as news of the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan reaches us. We have seen video images of the devastation and have read of a mass grave being filled with unidentified human bodies. We realize that food and water, clothing and shelter are the most urgent needs of those who remain alive in the devastated areas. But even these first essential resources have had to wait for physical access to remote sites to be established.
Experience teaches us that other needs are equally pressing: safety from looting, protection from disease that so often finds in disaster an ample opportunity to spread, help in rebuilding fishing and farming communities that can sustain themselves into the future. How can I help?
Lutheran Disaster Response is designed to connect people who want to help and are able to help with people who are struggling to live through a disaster such as this. Working through Lutheran World Relief, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is providing $1 million to support immediate relief efforts. We can help by giving through our church.
ELCA news service reported the following: “We are showing up,” said the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. “Lutheran Disaster Response, working through Lutheran World Relief, is meeting the immediate needs of people affected by this storm. This means that our entire church is on the ground in the Philippines, and we will stay there until the work is done. We are a church that does God’s work with our hands,” she said. In the envelope that contains the pages of this issue of The Echo is a bulletin insert that describes how individual and congregational donations may be directed to the effort. This information is also available electronically on the ELCA website, www.elca.org.
But there is another way we can help. We are a people of prayer, and our regular gatherings for worship give us opportunities to pray for those who are suffering, for those who are providing help for them, and for many others who are engaged in the work of recovery and care through various vocations. I am generally not eager to mess with the words of the liturgy, but I do want to make a suggestion that does exactly that: add to the Kyrie! Why? Because liturgical prayer ought not be an idle thing; liturgical prayer is an intentional and powerful act of care.
The Kyrie is a very ancient prayer of the Church that has come to us so astoundingly intact that it is still named with the Greek word that was used by the Early Church. With those of every age, we use the words of the Kyrie to cry out for God’s mercy on us. Some versions are expansive, mentioning specifically every part of life as an appropriate occasion for which to ask God’s mercy. The version that typically begins our liturgy is abbreviated into four petitions with an introductory invitation to pray for peace. But other versions are available to us.
In the ELW, hymn #238 is the Great Litany (and in the LBW, the Great Litany is found on p. 168). In either of these places you will find the historic prayer of the Church asking for mercy from “epidemic, drought, and famine; from fire and flood, earthquake, lightning, and storm.” Also included are prayers of support for all “who are in danger, need, or tribulation,” and prayers to “comfort and help the fainthearted and distressed.” In both books of worship are additional prayers in the collections of prayers for the Church that intercede for those who work to care for others. (As an example, see the prayer for “Emergency Workers” in ELW, p. 85.)
Along with your financial gifts that make possible the tangible work of care for people in the Philippines, take up the task of praying with great intention, and add to the Kyrie. Whatever form of the Kyrie you generally use, expand it for several weeks. Use the language of prayer that is found in our worship resources as a guide, but trust also the Spirit speaking in and through people in your community to compose prayers of encouragement and support for every part of the disaster you can think of. Then add that language to the Kyrie, sing it if you can, or add a spoken prayer over the music as the congregation or choir hums the musical setting of the Kyrie. Be creative, be passionate, and use the liturgy that we have received as a gift of mercy that we can use to bless the whole world.
For the peace of the whole world, and especially your precious people of the Philippine islands in their distress, for the well-being of the Church of God, and especially the Church in the Philippines, and for the unity of all, that your people in every place and with every vocation may be together a blessing for those facing disaster, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
With you in Christ
|dec 2013 bishops article.doc||45 KB|
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