The Presiding Bishop asked that this past Sunday be dedicated to prayers for peace in South Sudan.
This took various forms in various places. For my church of St. Paul’s, Kansas City, MO, we host a South Sudanese mission congregation in our building on Sunday afternoons. On this day, we jointly decided to worship together, as we do on Christmas and other major feasts.
We traded hymns in English and in Dinka, the gospel was read in both languages, and the Eucharist was co-celebrated in both languages: myself and Fr. John Deng switching off paragraphs.
But there was one part of the service that really hit home for me. At the sermon, Fr. Stan Runnels asked Fr. John to talk about the current situation, and to describe what was happening from his perspective. Fr. John talked about how it was the same people, fighting again, all over again, from the war of 1991. How it defies belief, almost, the scale of the loss and the devastation, when the same towns that had been destroyed before, were just being destroyed again. Fr. Stan asked, if it was all right, for those who had lost family members or friends in the current conflict, to stand.
Every member of the Sudanese congregation stood.
Deborah Goldfeder, in the Diocese of Missouri, wrote a meditation on her experience in South Sudan, and the various meanings of peace, in light of the civil war there. (H/T Beth Felice)
I cannot be at peace if you are hungry. I cannot be at peace if your children are thirsty. I cannot be at peace if you are homeless or in danger of the weapons of war. I am not at peace if children anywhere are suffering! Micah calls for a time when swords are beaten into plowshares and spears to pruning hooks where there is no war and “they shall sit under their own vines and under their own [Laro] tree and no one shall make them afraid….” And then “we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.”
You can read the whole piece here.
May we all be so afflicted, and may this affliction move us to seek a true and lasting peace