Our Hope Amidst Violence — Readers’ Choice

Readers’ Choice Month:
In August, The Park Forum looks back on our readers’ selections of our most meaningful and helpful devotionals from the past 12 months. Thank you for your readership. This month is all about hearing from you. Submit a Readers’ Choice post, today.

Today’s post was originally published, May 17, 2021, based on readings from Psalm 69.
It was selected by reader, EN, from Texas
“The prayer from South Africa was moving. I appreciate the incorporation of hymns and prayers of faith from around the world. In light of our often self-focused western faith, it is refreshing to have words from others who have truly suffered and kept the faith.”

Scripture Focus: Psalm 69.16-21

16 Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; 
in your great mercy turn to me. 
17 Do not hide your face from your servant; 
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. 
18 Come near and rescue me; 
deliver me because of my foes. 
19 You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; 
all my enemies are before you. 
20 Scorn has broken my heart 
and has left me helpless; 
I looked for sympathy, but there was none, 
for comforters, but I found none. 
21 They put gall in my food 
and gave me vinegar for my thirst. 

Reflection: Our Hope Amidst Violence — Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman

In 1995, with Aparthied still close in the rear view mirror, the Rugby World Cup was hosted and won by South Africa. In 2009, the story was turned into a film starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Sports metaphors and movies are inspiring, but the struggle in South Africa was just beginning. 1998 saw bombings in South Africa and attacks scattered over the entire continent. The times were tense, violent, unpredictable. 

From that time and place, comes this prayer. It was written by South African Christians and published in a book of prayers prepared for a worship conference in Berlin in 1998. Like many of the prayers we read in the psalms, this prayer is familiar with violence and suffering. This prayer’s response is inspiring for us today.

These problems still exist in one way or another, popping up in one country, then another. We still see abuse, rape as a weapon of war, and mass killings motivated by tribal conflicts or religious radicalization. Often the chief victims of these events are women. We also still see state-sanctioned terrorist attacks and state-approved assassinations. We still see disproportionate responses to violence both by police forces around the world and by governments.

Today’s psalm, referenced by gospel authors, (Matthew 27.34, 48; Mark 15.23, 36; Luke 23.36; John 19.28-30), reminds us that Jesus entered violence and scorn on our behalf. May the church follow Christ’s footsteps as he moves to help those affected by violence.

His eye is on the sparrows. Is ours?

Join this prayer today for all people across the world experiencing oppression, violence, and exile. Whether people suffer because of their religious beliefs or any other reason, we pray on their behalf.

A Prayer of Hope from South Africa

Oh, God,
You can do anything, anywhere, any time.
All knowing, all seeing God,
There is nothing hidden from you.
You see the women of Africa:
Who are refugees,
Fleeing their war-torn countries
With babies on their backs and luggage on their heads.
Some who are victims of human rights violations, abuse, infected with AIDS.
We put our hope in you, oh God.
For you hear even our unmentioned prayers
You watch not only the sparrow, but you see us too.
And your hands guide us all the way.
Above all, you offer us the gift of eternal life.
We praise your holy name.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Thy Name, L. A. (Tony) Cupit, ed., Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence

Show your goodness, O Lord, to those who are good and those who are true of heart. — Psalm 125.4

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Judges 18 (Listen – 4:39)
Acts 22 (Listen – 4:26)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

https://forms.gle/ozM13qvW9ouSWhJS7

Read more about Blossoming of Joy in Adversity
We find examples of joy under persecution and difficulty in Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and many others in scripture.

Hope Still Rises :: Worldwide Prayer

Psalm 69.29, 33
But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
   may your salvation, God, protect me.

The Lord hears the needy
   and does not despise his captive people.

Reflection: Hope Still Rises :: Worldwide Prayer
Prayer of Hope from South Africa

This prayer we feature today was originally published in a book of prayers prepared for a worship conference in Berlin in 1998.

In the years prior to that conference, Nelson Mandela began his first term as president and the end of Apartheid was in the immediate past. In 1995, the Rugby World Cup was hosted and won by the South African team. In 2009, the story was turned into an inspiring film starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. But as powerful as sports metaphors are and as inspiring as any movie might be, the struggle for greater peace and freedom in South Africa was just beginning and 1998 saw bombings in South Africa and attacks scattered over the entire continent.

Today, in Africa, peace and freedom are often in short supply. The problems lifted to God in this prayer, still exist in one way or another, popping up in one country, then another. Abuse, disease, rape as a weapon of war, and mass killings motivated by tribal conflicts or religious radicalization are still common events, even though they rarely make the current events section of Western newspapers. Often the chief victims of these events are women.

We join this prayer today for the people of Africa and for all people across the world experiencing oppression, violence, disease, and exile because of their religious beliefs.

May the church follow Christ’s footsteps as he moves to help those affected by these persistent signs of the sinfulness and greed of our world.

A Prayer of Hope
Oh, God,

You can do anything, anywhere, any time.
All knowing, all seeing God,
There is nothing hidden from you.

You see the women of Africa:
Who are refugees,
Fleeing their war-torn countries
With babies on their backs and luggage on their heads.

Some who are victims of human rights violations, abuse, infected with AIDS.
We put our hope in you, oh God.

For you hear even our unmentioned prayers
You watch not only the sparrow, but you see us too.
And your hands guide us all the way.

Above all, you offer us the gift of eternal life.

We praise your holy name.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Thy Name, L. A. (Tony) Cupit, ed., Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world

Prayer: A Reading
Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. “There was a judge in a certain town,” he said, “who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone. In the same town there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘I want justice from you against my enemy!’ For a long time he refused, but as last he said to himself, ‘Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person, I must give this widow her just rights since she keeps pestering me, or she will come and slap me in the face.’ And the Lord said, “You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now, will not God see justice done to his elect if they keep calling him day and night even though he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily.” — Luke 18.1-8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 26 (Listen – 7:47) 
Psalm 69 (Listen – 4:04)

This Weekend’s Readings
Numbers 27 (Listen – 3:08) Psalm 70-71 (Listen – 3:29)
Numbers 28 (Listen – 3:51) Psalm 72 (Listen – 2:21)

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Read more about Where Martyrdom Begins Part 1
Does martyrdom begin when a knife is held to your throat? If laying down our lives for another shows the greatest love, is it not possible to show that love unless our lives are taken in violence?

Read more about Reflecting the Unity of Christ :: Worldwide Prayer
Help us to share the blessings of knowing you with others and be at peace with you and with each other.

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