Pastoral Prayer – Human Rights Day
The following prayer was composed by The Rev. Sarah Henkel for worship at the White Plains Presbyterian Church on the Second Sunday of Advent, December 9, 2012. Human Rights Day is observed each December 10th.
Creator of us all,
In this season of expectation, we celebrate with you the courageous expectation of the people who wrote, drafted, and advocated for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 64 years ago tomorrow and translated into over 380 languages and dialects. We thank you for giving them clarity of vision and voice to speak for justice for all humanity, not just for some. We can envision the ripples of hope that moved out into the world on that day and continue into our present day: small groups of people demanding equal rights in their place of work or home, loud insistent masses crying out for change in systems and governments that cater only to the few and not to the whole.
During this year’s celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we focus on” the rights of all people – women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized – to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making”[i], decision making that effects their ability to live and breathe in freedom.
“These human rights — the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly and association, and to take part in government have been at the centre of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past two years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the “99%” made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political and social inequality.”[ii]
Are not these our present-day voices calling out to us from the wilderness…. to make a way for God’s justice and mercy to fill every valley, to bring low every mountain, to smooth out the paths made rough by oppression so that ALL humanity will see God’s perfect peace?
God, open our ears to listen and respond. We pray with some trembling: refine and purify our hearts so that we are prepared to receive the guidance of your messengers to act for justice or that we ourselves can hear your calling to be a messenger, to use our voice and experiences to cry out for a better world.
We bring to you now the hope, the anxieties, the dreams, and sorrow of this gathered community:
We gather here to recommit ourselves to work for God’s justice. We gather in hope that a better world is possible, that the image of God we see reflected in each other here in this place will turn us outward to embrace and heal a world created and cherished by you. May it be so. We pray in hope and expectation to the God of us All,