As we all surely realize by now, a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan. A mass exodus is building as thousands of Afghans rush to flee the country. This week, somehow, a sermon feels irrelevant. So I offer, instead, a prayer.
Holy God, we bring before you the wrongs from which humanity still suffers. Remembering that you are the Creator of the whole human family, we pray for those upon whom are inflicted the cruelties of war: those who are killed, maimed, and made homeless by armed conflict; those who are mistreated by violent men; those who are brutalized by what they are ordered to do; those who are forced to fight against their conscience.
Our hearts ache for all those who are desperately trying to leave Afghanistan; those who are denied their liberty; those who are persecuted for their religious views; those compelled to live and work as slaves; those denied access to education and health care. Hear us, gracious God, as we pray:
- for Afghans at risk because of their service alongside Allied troops, that they might be quickly and safely evacuated.
- for the women and children who are specifically targeted by the brutal ideology of the Taliban.
- for those waiting in Kabul—at entrances and at the airport—that their physical needs will be met, including protection, water, and more.
- for neighbouring countries, as they attempt to host the surge of refugees leaving Afghanistan.
We pray, as well:
- that those helping will be able to overcome obstacles as they facilitate the exits and relocations of Afghans.
- that more pathways will become available to safety and security.
- that countries around the world will open their borders, and that people will open their hearts to those being displaced from their homes.
And with tears, we pray for those who will not be relocated.
Thank you for standing with us as we work for justice and peace—for it is difficult work. In many cases it seems that we can only have one without the other: peace, at the cost of perpetuating injustice; or justice, at the cost of a broken peace. That dilemma is very much upon our minds on this day, as we ponder the situation devolving in Afghanistan. O God, show all people how they can strive for justice without recourse to the violence of war; and—if a nation must go to war—may it not cause more evil than it seeks to remove.
Encourage all who stand against injustice and oppression: those who protest publicly; those who rouse opinion by their speech and writing; those who bring just concerns to the attention of politicians and others in authority.
O God, speak strong words of courage to the ones who must live out their lives facing challenge as it comes. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.