Reflections on the WORLD DAY OF PRAYER by Rev. Ed Poling

Published February 19, 2013

Most of us carry around some type of personal calendar/planner, either in paper format or iPad.  Not only does it help us keep track of appointments, but gives us some interesting information. For instance, Daylight Savings Time starts on Sunday, March 10.  And March 21 is Benito Juarez’ Birthday in Mexico. (Some information is obviously more important to us than some others.)

But here is a date in March that caught my eye. Friday, March 1 is World Day of Prayer.  I had heard of this before, but had no details. So I googled “World Day of Prayer.” According to its website (http://www.worlddayofprayer.net/) “The World Day of Prayer is a worldwide movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer each year, and who, in many countries, have a continuing relationship in prayer and service.”  It includes women from more than 170 countries around the world. The purpose is to bring “women of various races, cultures and traditions into closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year.” This event is held annually on the first Friday of March. Their motto is “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action.”

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Day_of_Prayer), it was started in the United States in1884 by Mary Ellen James, spouse of a Presbyterian minister and mother of seven children.  She was aware of the problems faced by many women around her, particularly new immigrants to the country who were living in city slums. They were facing poverty, unemployment, poor housing, and lack of health and educational opportunities. She called for a day of prayer. It became the largest ecumenical movement in the world organized and led by women.

You could say it really is a peace movement because through it “women are encouraged to become aware of the other countries and cultures and no longer live in isolation. They are also encouraged to take up the burdens of other people, to sympathize with the problems of other countries and cultures and pray with and for them” (en.wikipedia.org). If that’s not the basis for peace, I don’t know what is.

This year’s theme was developed by the women of France. The 2013 theme is “I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me.”  Its a focus on immigration and finding ways to welcome “the stranger.”  They have drawn on the parable of the final judgment in Matthew 25 and the customs of hospitality in Leviticus. Is it a coincidence that the issue raised 129 years ago by the founder is still important in today’s world?

Locally, the World Day of Prayer will be celebrated near Williamsport on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. at the Downsville Church of the Brethren (Dam 4 road just outside of Downsville).  I hope to join them. Won’t you come too? (I didn’t hear that it was only for women.) We need more opportunities in our busy lives to pray together in Christ’s name for the world.

The closing Benediction in the service is my prayer as well:  “May the blessing of God, three times holy, be with us so that peace may reign in a world of increased solidarity. Such is the promise of the world to come. Amen!”

 

Pastor Ed

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