September 2021 Ritual: Honoring Peacemakers for International Day of Peace

September 21, 2021 WATERritual

“Honoring Peacemakers for International Day of Peace”

By Diann L. Neu and Liza Johnson

“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.”

Sadako Sasaki

Listen to the audio recording of the September 2021 WATERritual here.

Preparation

Have a candle, a symbol of peace, or a peace crane nearby. To make a peace crane or several, look to this video for guidance/instructions.

Call to Gather

Welcome to tonight’s celebration, “Honoring Peacemakers for International Day of Peace.” Every year on September 21, people around the world come together to advocate for peace in its many forms. The United Nations’ theme for this year is Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world.

As Covid continues to reveal divisions worldwide, we come together tonight to honor peacemakers, many of whom have given their lives to uphold the dignity each person deserves. We gather virtually also on this Equinox day when the seasons are changing in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

This liturgy offers a glimpse into what peacemakers throughout the ages have passed on to the generations that follow after them. We gather in the spirit of Divine Wisdom who calls us to live in peace from generation to generation. We gather to honor peacemakers.

Light a Candle for Peace on Earth

Light your candle and say out loud in your own space: “I pray for Peace on Earth.” Hold your candle and send healing and peace to the world as we listen to the song.

Song: “Mi Shebeirach,” Debbie Friedman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHKo3CjuzpY&ab_channel=rememberingdebbie

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu
May the source of strength
Who blessed the ones before us
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing
And let us say Amen

Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habrachah l’avoteinu
Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leimah
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit
And let us say Amen

Litany of Forgiveness

Following the initiative of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious at their Annual Meeting in August, let us pray a Litany of Forgiveness to apologize for the times when we have shied away from working to bring about peace, love, and healing.

You are invited to pray this litany with open hands.

For retaliating against the 9/11 attacks by terrorists with 20 years of fighting a devastating war in Afghanistan,

            We profoundly apologize. Grant us Peace.

For failing to defend the systems like those in Texas that would protect people’s reproductive choices and keep them safe,

We profoundly apologize. Grant us Peace.

For complicity in racism by churches, religious groups, society, and ourselves,

  We profoundly apologize. Grant us Peace.

For participating in the devastating effects of climate change that produced Hurricane Ida and Nicholas, the Caldor Fires, and other wildfires,

We profoundly apologize. Grant us Peace.

For harming our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and nonbinary siblings by not accepting who they are and refusing to call forth their God-given gifts,

We profoundly apologize. Grant us Peace.

For avoiding the full truth of our history, ignoring or omitting the painful stories that interweave and form the full fabric of our lives as African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Euro Americans, Latinx Americans, and other immigrants,

            We profoundly apologize. Grant us Peace.

Divine Peacemaker, fill us with your wisdom and grace that we may use our gifts to bring about peace and be Peacemakers in the world. Amen. Ashe. Let it be so.

Song: “I’ve Got Peace Like a River,” African-American spiritual

I’ve got peace like a river, (3x) in my soul. (repeat once)

Calls for Peace

Let us listen to the wisdom of peacemakers worldwide.

Sadako Sasaki of Japan, symbol of innocent victims of nuclear war: “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.” From the Report from Hiroshima (1961), 48.

Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2014: “Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish.” From I Am Malala, 313.

Anne Frank of Germany and the Netherlands, Holocaust victim and diarist: “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” From The Diary of Anne Frank (July 15, 1944).

Wangari Maathai of Kenya, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2004: “Unless we properly manage resources like forests, water, land, minerals and oil, we will not win the fight against poverty. And there will not be peace. Old conflicts will rage on and new resource wars will erupt unless we change the path we are on.” From the New York Times, “Trees for Democracy

Rigoberta Menchú of Guatemala, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 1992: “Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.” Found here.

Song: I’ve got peace like a mountain, (3x) in my soul. (repeat once)

Reflection | Sharing

Where in the world do you hope peace will arrive? How are you seeking peace in your own life and in your community?

Song: I’ve got peace like an ocean, (3x) in my soul. (repeat once)

Litany of Peacemakers

Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed, pray for peace.
Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham, pray for peace.
Joan of Arc and Francis of Assisi, pray for peace.
Käthe Kollwitz and Rabbi Heschel, pray for peace.
Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and John Lewis, pray for peace.
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and Pope John XXIII, pray for peace.
Black Elk and Mahatma Gandhi, pray for peace.
Óscar Romero, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clark, and Jean Donovan, pray for peace.

Song: I’ve got peace all around me, (3x) and my soul. (repeat once)

Blessing Symbols of Peace

As the world needs Earth, air, water, and sun, so the world needs peacemakers. In solidarity with peacemakers around the world, let us bless these peace cranes and symbols of peace.

Show us your symbol of peace.

We unite with you, Peacemakers of the North, South, East, West, Above, and Below. We extend our hands and bless these many symbols of peace.

Blessed are you, Gracious and Loving Peacemaker of the World, for giving us these symbols of peace. Blessed are you for calling us to be peacemakers. Grant us peace. Grant each family peace. Grant each neighborhood peace. Grant each country peace. Grant peace to the world, to the universe, and to the cosmos. We ask this in the name of all who cry for peace.  

Take Action for Peace

Let us put our prayers for peace into action. Here are some possible ways:

Sending Forth

As we go forth to bring peace to the world, let us promise to speak out against injustice everywhere witness for peace.

Speak out against hatred towards refugees,

            Witness for Peace!

Speak out against war everywhere, especially the civil war in Afghanistan,

Witness for Peace!

Speak out against ethnic cleansing,

Witness for Peace!

Speak out against America’s hostility towards immigrants,

                         Witness for Peace!

Speak out against human causes of climate change and stand in solidarity with all those affected by recent hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other natural disasters,
                        Witness for Peace!

Speak out against human trafficking,

Witness for Peace!

Speak out against racism and white supremacy in all its forms,

                         Witness for Peace!

Blessing of Peace

May peace be within us. May peace be around us. May peace be beside us.
May peace be between us. May we walk peacefully.
May peace fill our days and nights. May peace fill the Earth.

Greeting of Peace

Let us empower each other to witness for peace by waving peace to one another..

Song:

“Let There Be Peace,” Sweet Honey in the Rock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrXB3xD8NRI&ab_channel=arshtcenter

Let there be peace on Earth; let the moment be now,
where every man and woman understands their part.
Let there be peace. Let there be peace. Let there be peace. Let there be peace.
Let there be peace on Earth and let it extend to every border near and far, restore peace again.
Let there be peace on Earth, let this be the day, when all humanity will raise their voices to say.
Let there be peace. Let there be peace. Let there be peace.

 

© 2021 Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), adapted from Stirring WATERS: Feminist Liturgies for Justice by Diann L. Neu, dneu@hers.com