The UN International Day of Peace
In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution (55/282) designating 21 September of each year as a day for the entire world to observe peace and nonviolence. In 2004, UN secretary general Kofi Annan supported the proposal of the WCC to establish an international day of prayer for peace.
Call From the World Council of Churches (WCC)
When the world is at war in so many places and the forces of violence, war and oppression seem to be increasing, praying for peace seems to be a futile exercise. But we as Christians believe both in the power and in the promise of peace, and we also believe in the power of prayer.
Prayer is a part of Christian spirituality, a spirituality which is not a call to turn inward, to retreat from social action and public life but, on the the contrary, a call to awaken and to pursue the continuity of things of the Spirit with action for justice and peace.
That is why, in the framework of the Decade to Overcome Violence, the WCC has called upon its member churches to observe an International Day of Prayer for Peace on 21 September. On that day, we want to lift up people in all nations who are working together for a peaceful world. Let us encourage them and walk in solidarity with them. Let us intercede for them and give thanks to God for them. ~Samuel Kobia, General Secretary
Last night I attended a prayer meeting for the International Day of Prayer for Peace at Kowloon Union Church. It was a simple service, with time for intercession, for the community to bring their concerns of the community and the world before one another, to pray, light candles and remember. They had a board with pieces of paper in the shapes of doves, hearts and circles. They encouraged us to take one and write what a world at peace would look like, then repost it on the board. At the end of the service, as we were singing “The Kingdom of God,” (lyrics: “the kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.”) I looked around. What a diverse group we were, hailing from America, Ireland, China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Camaroon, Indonesia and England. The chapel was dimly lit, the flames of the candles flickered against the shadow of the cross. Lilies adorned a simple wooden cross, made for the service. Our prayers, our desires for peace, overlapped one another on the board. There were some on their knees in prayer. Others passing the peace to their pew-neighbor. And I wanted to change what I wrote on my paper. This is my vision of peace. Not necessarily a world without violence – I do not know if we will ever see that in this world. But a world in which people of all religions, nationalities and backgrounds, can come together, work together, pray together – for peace. For hope. For justice. For mercy. A world in which we are breaking down walls – the walls in our communities and the walls in our hearts. A world in which the tears of the lonely are felt on the cheeks of the joyful. A world in which the yoke of the tired worker is carried by strong. A world in which the silent prayers of the hopeful are heard in churches, synagogues, temples, and homes around the world.
My dear dear friend David is in Israel right now. I can only imagine the pain, the acts of oppression and violence he will see in his time there. But he is there to join in the work for peace, for understanding. And I long to stand in solidarity with him, and with all others around the world who work for peace in their communites. It doesn’t have to be Israel or Hong Kong – there are walls being built in America and all around the world- physical walls to keep out our neighbors, walls of restment towards our brothers and sisters of different races, walls of wealth that oppress the poor. So I leave you with a quote from David’s blog:
“Seeing the Wall for the first time. In Hebrew, the Israelis call it Hafrada. It means seperation. Apartheid means seperation in Afrikaans. I know that’s a controversial statement, but it’s true. It cuts through neighborhoods. Its God is demographics, seperation, encroachment. It doesn’t care what is in its way, just crushes and destroys. So many years, and still we built walls. God, shatter these barriers, shatter our walls…shatter us, and let us flow into each other, at last.”