The season of prayer is meant to revive hope from hopelessness, taking into account the vulnerability of minority communities and the threat of losing the diversity of the social fabric in this region.
In a letter of invitation to prayer addressed to the churches, issued on 24 March, Rev. Dr Olav Fyske Tviet, WCC general secretary, said:
“Many churches and Christians around the world have offered signs of solidarity and sympathy through prayer vigils, humanitarian assistance and advocacy for just peace. Despite these efforts, so many still feel powerless and incapable of making any impact and change. Yet we know that we worship a God of hope, in whom there is always a Cross, always Resurrection. As Christians we are called to live in the hope Christ gives us and make this our witness in times of deep pain and strife.”
He continued, “The religious and ethnic minorities continue to be the most vulnerable communities. Among them are the Christians, our sisters and brothers in the Lord. They face the present danger of extermination or exile from their own region.”
He invited the churches to use a common prayer for peace in Syria and beyond through liturgical resources on the WCC website.
These prayers may be adapted according to the different calendars, liturgical styles and church traditions.
“Help us remember that you loved the world so much that you gave your only begotten Son, whose love was nearly overwhelmed by hate, whose light was nearly extinguished by darkness, whose life was nearly destroyed by death … But not quite…. For love vanquished hate, life overcame death, light overwhelmed darkness, and we can live with hope.”
The Anglican Alliance marked the fourth anniversary of conflict in Syria, on 12 March 2015, supporting the #withSyria coalition of international agencies, which is calling on world leaders to fulfil their commitments to bring an end to the conflict and suffering.
Anglicans are supporting those affected in the Middle East, and you can see more and contribute to the appeals at these links:
Anglican Board of Mission (Australia)
Anglican Overseas Aid (Australia)
Christian Aid (UK)
Episcopal Relief & Development (USA)
The Jerusalem and Middle East Church Association
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (Canada)
Us (formerly USPG)
International Orthodox Christian Charities, an ACT Alliance partner, released this video on the situation in Syria in May 2013. A number of Anglican agencies are members of the ACT Alliance and contribute towards its work with the Syrian people. Since then the situation has grown markedly worse. Over 7.5 million people are displaced within Syria and four million have fled to neighbouring lands in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. In total, 12 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance (OCHA, October 2014).
In the picture: A woman and her baby in Gaza, Anglican Overseas Aid. The Diocese of Jerusalem is a vital voice of hope, mutual respect and practical care for thousands of people in the region, providing a crucial role in health, education and reconciliation.