IWD – International Women’s Day (March 8 each year)

2019 theme is #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019
Better the balance, better the world.
(the link above shows ‘the pose’ for the theme for 2019)

An International Women’s Day Prayer
God,
Today we honour the women of all times and places,
Women of courage,
Women of hope,
Women of suffering,
Women of mourning,
Women living fully,
Women experiencing joy,
Women delighting in life,
Women knowing the interconnectedness of the human family,
Women promoting human flourishing,
Women boldly leading the transformation of unjust global structures,
Women seeking and sharing wisdom and love,
Loving God, we celebrate your faithfulness and love,
On this day we celebrate the promotion of the full humanity of all women everywhere,
We know that whatever denies or distorts the full humanity is not of God,
Help us to be faithful to your call to love all of humanity equally,
In your holy name we pray, Amen .
(Source: Tané Theron, Christian Ethos and Chapel Prefect, Ravenswood School for Girls)

Prayer for International Women’s Day
(here is a link to a powerpoint presentation for this prayer)
Women are a reflection of the glory of God.
Today we honor the women of all times and all places:
Women of courage.
Women of hope.
Women suffering
Women mourning.
Women living fully.
Women experiencing joy.
Women delighting in life.

Women knowing the interconnectedness of the human family.
Women honoring the sacredness of the relational, the affective.

Women quietly tending the garden of human flourishing.
Women boldly leading the transformation of unjust global structures.

Women seeking Wisdom.
Women sharing Wisdom.

Women receiving Love.
Women giving Love.

Women: life-giving.
Women: the image of God.

Loving God, we celebrate your faithfulness and love. On this day we commit ourselves to the promotion of the full humanity of all women everywhere. We know that whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is not of God.

Help us to be faithful to your call to love. Amen.
(Source: Education for Justice)

A 2018 message from Colleen Geyer, General Secretary, Uniting Church Assembly


Quote by Desmond Tutu
: When those who are role models treat women as equals, then the narrative changes – ‘if you want peace, let women take the lead’

An adaption of the Franciscan prayer, by Deborah Hirt
Lord, make me an instrument of peace:
Bless all women who daily strive to bring peace to their communities, their homes and their hearts. Give them strength to continue to turn swords into plowshares.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love:
We pray for all women who face prejudice, inequality and gender disparities. Help us seeand to face the discrimination against women inall the many forms it may take.
Where there is injury, pardon:
Comfort all women who suffer from the pain of war, violence, and abuse. Help them to become instruments of their own reconciliation and peace.
Where there is division, unity:
Forgive all women and men who let differences breed hate and discrimination. Let your example of valuing all of creation help us to see that we are equal partners in the stewardship of your world.
Where there is darkness, light; where there is untruth, truth:
Comfort all women who struggle in the darkness of abuse, poverty, and loneliness. May we stand with them in light to acknowledge their suffering and strive to remove the burdens of shame or embarrassment.
Where there is doubt, true faith:
We pray for all women who live in fear of their husbands, fathers, and forces that control their lives. Help them to be empowered to be their true selves through your everlasting love and faith.
Where there is despair, hope:
We pray for all women who live in the despair of poverty, violence, trafficking, slavery,and abuse. May the light of your love bring them hope.
Where there is sadness, new joy:
Help us to see the strength and goodness in all women and men.
Transform our hearts to celebrate the love and grace of all people.
And may we be blessed with the courage of St. Clare of Assisi to follow our own path of love for you and all sisters and brothers.
(posted on Godspace by Christine Sine, originally sourced from Intern at Franciscans International)

Confession
Men: Mother God, we confess that we too often create labels for women instead of trying to understand them. Forgive us for not listening.

Women: Sustaining Life Force, we confess that we too often believe the labels we are given. Forgive us for believing what we are told.

Men: We confess that we have created a world that denies women’s way of being. Forgive us for ignoring.

Women: We confess we have failed to speak up for ourselves and our sisters, to transform the world into a place that allows us to be fully be ourselves. Forgive us for our silence.

Men: We confess that we have assumed that we are the norm and ignored those who differ from us. Forgive us for our blinders.

Women: We confess that we often assume that our struggle is not a communal struggle. Forgive us for not sharing our experience with others.

Both: In all the ways we have failed to live into the people you created us to be, forgive us, O God.

Assurance of Pardon
We know that God reconciles all things to Godself through the incarnation. Therefore as incarnate beings, be reconciled to God and be forgiven.
(Source:CindyAtSem)

A presentation on IWD 2018 for the Uniting Church in Australia by Rev Christy Capper.

(this liturgy is from the Philippines National Council of Churches NCCP)

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, March 8, 2015
“Women of Faith Embracing the Challenge of Being Church of and for the Poor”

(Note: World Day of Prayer is the first Friday in March; International Women’s Day is March 8th each year)

The music “Bread and Roses” is played while the worship elements (Bible, Candles, Flowers and Cross) are being placed on the altar.

Call to Worship
Voice 1: We celebrate women’s voices, proclaiming wisdom.
Voice 2: We honour women’s lives, forging new paths.
Voice 1: We remember women’s faith, strong amid challenges.
Voice 2: We anticipate women’s vision, calling us into the future.
All: Past, present, and future, our lives join with women everywhere.

Opening Hymn “All Across the Nation”
(Melodie und Text: aus Afrika-African Women’s Day Song)
All across the nation, all around the world
Women are longing to be free
No longer in the shadows, forced to stay behind
But side by side in true equality

Refrain:
So sing a song for women everywhere
Let it ring around and never, never cease
So sing a song for women everywhere
Equality, development and peace.

Women can’t be silent, when all around the world
People hurt and hungry, children cry
We will sing for justice and development
And hold the rights of all the people high

Refrain

Women are now working to build a better world
Where the love of peace can rest on every shore
Where men lay down their weapons and learn to love and share
And people work to bring an end to war

Refrain

Opening Prayer
Embracing Mother God, we are grateful for all the blessing you have bestowed upon us- the breath of life, the sisterhood, the friendship, the fellowship and our womanhood. We give thanks for showering us delight and joy so that we may continue to protect life amidst sacrifices and direst of circumstances. We endure and share each other’s load amidst life struggles for decent living; to end all kinds of violence inflicted unto us, to our children and in the environment; to continue to inspire others to collectively break our silence. Without ceasing, we will gyrate our hips and bodies, and use our hands and voices to express our very strong resistance to the injustices and violence of this world.

Scripture Readings
Old Testament Isaiah 58:6-9
New Testament Luke 1:46-55

The Now Testament: The Women’s Situation in the Philippines

Hymn: “Longing for Light”

Longing for light we wait in darkness
Longing for truth we turn to you
Make us your own your holy people,
Light for the world to see.

Chorus:
Christ be our light, shine in our hearts
Shine through the darkness
Christ be our light,
Shine in your church gathered today

Affirmation of Faith
There are women yearning for good news.
We will speak out.
There are women whose hearts are broken.
We will reach out.
There are women who have lost their freedom.
We will seek justice.
There are women who mourn.
We will stand with them.

Testimonies
Women from different sectors in the community give testimonies about their experiences of struggle and hope.

Offertory

Song: “Faith in the Service of the People, Faith in the Service of the Poor”
(Music: Perla S. Dingayan, 1999 Words: Luna Dingayan )

Refrain:
Faith in the service of the people,
Faith in the service of the poor.
This is our response to the call of God,
Faith in the service of the poor.

1. Peasants of the field have the vision, of land that is rich and free
They till the land from dawn to setting sun, yet they remain to be poor.
Refrain

2. Workers of the cities have the vision of decent jobs and decent pay,
They have to work like machinery yet they remain to be poor.
Refrain

3. Women of the land have the vision of people with dignity,
They work and struggle, caring for their young, hope for a nation that is free.
Refrain

4. Students and the young have the vision of future that’s bright and free,
They work and study, learn the lessons past, hope for a nation that is free.
Refrain

5. People of the church have the vision of kingdom of God on earth,
A kingdom of justice and righteousness, a kingdom of joy and love.
Refrain

6. Let us come and celebrate together our joys in the service of God,
And giving thanks for all the work well done, pray for years to come.
Refrain

Blessing and Sending Off
May God give us passion and hope in our continuing journey towards women’s
emancipation. May we strengthen our unity and embrace the challenge to love, serve and be in solidarity with the poor. Go now in faith, in hope and in love.

A PRAYER FOR IWD
Here we go, sister, let’s do this right from the start: I pray that Love will rise in you and through you. I pray for you to know Love deeply and intimately, that you will have a hunger and a thirst for the More of God. I pray that you would be satisfied by Love, that you would make your home in Love, that you would make Love your discipline, your resting place, your practice, your doctrine, your plumb line, and your identity.

I pray for you to have a finely tuned ear for the voice of the Holy Spirit. So that when you walk, you would hear that voice whispering “this is the way, walk in it” and so you would walk forward unafraid.” (Isaiah 30:21)

I pray that you would be a woman who celebrates other women. I pray for fancy champagne glasses filled with sparkling apple juice around your table and milestones to celebrate. May you push back on that old lie that women are insecure and jealous by how you love and champion other women.

I pray that you would be a voice of truth and boldness. I pray you would wrestle with your own story until you own it, body and soul, and have learned how to make it sing.

I pray for you to be a woman of possibility and hope, a woman who rises above cynicism and bitterness into a never-wearying never-backing-down resolution.

When you are distrustful of other women, I pray that you would be surprised by the sneaky goodness of God, that somehow real sisterhood sort of friendship would sneak up on you in a haphazard and organic way, without the striving and the organizing, without the Official Sanctioned Church Programs To Make Ladies Be Friends. I pray that the right women would come in your life at the right time, I pray you’ll stay open to finding them, may you always be watching for hints of your people.

I pray you would be surrounded by women who know what it is to love and to champion and to celebrate, by women who are dreamers and schemers, who live a bit outside of the Good Christian Lady Box. I pray someone clutches their pearls over you. May you be tireless and may you know what it is to rest well.

I pray for spiritual midwives in your life, women who will breathe alongside of you as you are giving birth to the new you over and over again. I pray for friends and for mentors, for authors and leaders, for preachers and policy makers, for mothers and a few saucy aunties, for the daughters of your body or of your heart, may you join hands in the rising. May you be alongside of women who invite you to go deeper, who make you more real, more honest, who know who you are without make-up or masks.

May you learn and challenge and grow. May you reclaim curiosity and wisdom and knowledge. I pray for acceptance letters and scholarships, for opportunities to do the work you love to do and I pray for equal pay when you do it!

I pray for a long life of content for a page-turning biography to enchant and inspire and maybe scandalize the generation coming up behind you.

I pray that the women of your lineage of faith will inspire you. May you know their stories in scripture and in history and in your own circles: may you be curious about other women and amplify their influence. May you find good leaders to follow, good leaders who will influence you, call you out, mentor you, coach you, teach you, challenge you, push you.

We call out the sins of violence, rape, abuse, torture, against all women. No more. May you be a woman who is safe, a woman who does not fear, a woman who builds safety and security for other women, too. We call out the economic injustices, the educational inequalities, the maternal mortality, patriarchy, movements designed to baptize inequality in sacred language, the forced prostitution, the sex trafficking, all of the countless ways that the image of God in women is abused and mistreated and broken or diminished. We call it out and name it for what it is – sin! powers! principalities! systemic evil! injustice! – and we cast it down, in the name of Jesus. I pray that you would continue casting it down with your whole life. We pray that they will be weakened in the world, cast away, broken, and dismantled forever. May we work to call these things out and to dismantle them from our world … and from our own hearts.

I pray that the places where this world has broken you, where evil has left its mark, where you have felt abandoned and broken and hurt, where you are in pain would become a wellspring of healing and wholeness for you. I pray for the desert to bloom with flowers. I pray for the dry parched earth to be filled with cleansing rain and healing waters. I pray for your healing, sister, and I pray for your wholeness. I pray for your boldness, I pray for your voice to rise. May you witness a new thing brewing. And may your very place of death become a story of unexpected resurrection.

Right from Pentecost, the Church has known that the mistreatment and dehumanization or devaluing of women was not and never would be part of God’s plan and purpose for women and so may you be moved to act for justice in both big and small ways in your life. May you find your place in the big story of redemption, rescue, and renewal that God is weaving together.

I pray for you to remember the big story of women in the world and to pay attention to their voices, to elevate and empower and affirm them as worthy and valuable just as you are worthy and valuable. I pray you would become what N.T. Wright called a parable of hope, right in your life right now.

I pray you would participate in the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, the setting things right of our co-creation with Jesus. I pray that you would rise up to prophesy to God’s new world with your words and your life.

Hear me now: you have not been called to the people-pleasing life, to the approval seeking life, to the bow-down-and-give-up life or to the sit-down-and-shut-up life. No! You have been called to the peace-making life, the truth-telling life, the mighty in words and deeds life, the fearless life, the she-who-the-Son-sets-free-is-free-indeed life. You have been called to the spirit-filled and God-breathed life so may you live out the ways of Jesus into every corner of your womanhood, always with an eye on who is alongside of you, ahead of you, and coming up behind you.

May you know how deeply you are loved by God. May you know deep in your lungs that every breath is carrying the mark of your the breath of God from the Garden to the Ascension. May you, as Paul wrote, firmly plant your feet on love, taking in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. That you would reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Living full lives, full in the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19 MSG).

I pray that you would go further than we have ever gone, that you would be bolder than we have ever been, to be braver, to preach the Gospel of freedom and goodness and welcome fearlessly. You will go where we cannot go and we are praising God for you, sister.

I pray that you would remember the truth of who you are. That you would know you are valuable, you are loved, you are worthy – not because of what you do or what you say or what you accomplish, not because of how men perceive you or desire you, not because you of how you look or dress, not because of your income, not because you are (or are not) a mother – but simply because you, sister, you were made in the image of God.

May you turn to Jesus as your teacher and your shepherd. Don’t outsource the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. You’re not under anyone’s umbrella, you need no mediator or go-between, you are standing boldly before the throne of grace on your own soul’s two feet before God.

May you pay attention to your anger and to your joy. Your calling is hiding somewhere at that intersection. I pray you would be a friend to the poor, to the oppressed, to the marginalized – not just an ally, not just an activist, not just a listener, but a friend.

May you seek and create beauty – that’s Kingdom work, too.

Stop waiting for permission, sister: it’s time. I pray you would rise up with your gifts and your words, your passion and your insight, your skill and your brain, your perspective and your history, full in the fullness of God.

There is real evil in this world, may you be a prophetic outpost for the Kingdom of God, living into the abundance of God in your life. The resistance will come but you will stand.

And when you find the invitations from the Holy Spirit, when you feel Jesus alongside of you whispering “Pick up your mat and walk” I pray that you jump up and run after wherever he’s headed.

I’ll pray these words from our brother Paul over you, too, from his letter to the Romans: “Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

In the name of Jesus, I pray that you would have the guts to follow where Jesus is leading. I pray for freedom to reign. I pray for you to find your place in a sisterhood of grace and freedom.

May you relearn the ways you’ve missed it. May you be both the teacher and student, open to learning. May you be given opportunities to repent and to ask forgiveness, to embrace the hard blessings of forgiveness sought and received and offered.

I pray that you would cultivate joy and learn to embrace sorrow. Rather than trading shot for shot or rage for rage or despair for despair, you would step out of the cycle of death and walk straight out onto the water, eyes fixed on Jesus, making a way where there was no way.

I pray against the temptations of silence and despair and numb anger: I pray that you would run the race that is set before you, that you would flourish in your lane while cheering on every other runner alongside of you. I pray that you would look fear in the face and speak up anyway. I pray that you would look hopelessness in the face and be the voice declaring the hope of the Lord for the redemption and rescue and renewal of all things.

I pray for you when you are tired and discouraged, when you feel futile and small and ridiculous, when it is tempting to shrink back and give up, I pray for rest, I pray for renewal, I pray for faith, for fearlessness, for boldness, for new courage, for new vision, for new life to come to you in ways that surprise you and bless you.

And now rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, and satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.

You are set apart in your right-now life for the daily work of liberation and love. May you live your life in the cadence of the redeemed and resurrected: others first, pay attention, open heart, work well, rest radically, open doors, live prophetically, make room in your life to be inconvenienced, challenge, love well – be brave together.

It’s in the name of Jesus that we send you out to your right-now life, sister.

We’re in it together. We’re headed towards the new city and we’re crying out in the gates for Love. May your life rise. Amen.

(Source: Sarah Bessey)

VALIANT WOMEN
Who shall find a valiant woman?
Who shall find a valiant woman?

Reader 1: Look! We are all around you:
in the work rooms of industry,
and of every functioning enterprise,
unheralded, invisible,
some say nonexistent,
but we know otherwise.

Who shall find a valiant woman?

Reader 2: Look! We are all around you:
contributing, setting standards,
changing the course of history,
preparing, supporting,
challenging those resentful of our collegial claims and capabilities.

Who shall find a valiant woman?

Reader 3: Look! We are all around you:
Woman of courage, compassionate, patient.
Our number is legion, our gifts diverse,
our goal one and the same:
that history hear, that history is cognizant of,
that history will one day recall our names.

Reader 1: We honour the women of the Hebrew scriptures:
Mary, the Mother of Jesus,
whose courage, persistence, love, and fidelity
kept the lineage of faith alive.

Reader 2: We honour the women of Jesus’ time
Who cared for the community of believers;
Who followed Jesus to Calvary;
Who buried Him;
Who proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection
Who passed the Gospel to their families, friends and strangers;

Reader 3: We honour the valiant women of our own time
Who nudge us back on track;
Who remind us of the promises of Christ’
Who claim the Gospel for women, too;
Who preach the reality of wholeness;
Who strain against a patriarchal church
Who challenge us to grow!

Leader: Living God,
Today we gather in and among Your Presence.
Valiant women throughout the world,
and all gathered here, raise our voices in global petition
for your promise of wholeness – fullness of life –
to be realized in all our world, in our nations and in our lives.
This we pray in Your Name. Amen.
PETITIONS
Leader: Loving God, be with us as we gather together, one in heart and spirit. We pray for all those in need of your mercy.
Loving God, hear our prayer.
For all world leaders, that they may be moved to work for peace and justice by ratifying the United Nations Convention, to eliminate all forms of Discrimination against Women, and carry out its terms we pray.
Loving God, hear our prayer.
For those most vulnerable to oppression or neglect, especially women and children, we pray.
Loving God, hear our prayer.
For women who bring forth their children in uncertainty –
for refugees and for victims of war, we pray.
Loving God, hear our prayer.
For all those who go hungry while others feast in plenty, and for those who struggle to support families in the midst of economic injustice, we pray.
Loving God, hear our prayer.
For all who struggle for the basic necessities of life – nourishing food, pure water, fresh air, and adequate housing, we pray.
(Invite additional petitions)
Loving God, you have heard the cries of your suffering people. Open our eyes to see the immensity of your love for us and the wonder of what you have done for us. Give us the courage to be your hands and heart for those who are in pain. Give us the wisdom to speak out for justice and righteousness. May your will be done in us today and always. Amen.
CLOSING PRAYER
Readers: We are those valiant women,
giving leadership in our homes,
contributing to our community,
working for change at all levels of society,
crying for justice and mercy,
living the Gospel,
understanding theology,
practicing our faith,
remaining true to the Word
SENDING FORTH
Let us go forth then, O Living and Loving God,
Let us go forth in the power of Your Presence deep in our hearts,
and the power of your presence overflowing in our communities,
Let us go forth confirmed and strengthened in our vision
Let us go forth named in Hope and Love,
and sustained in these challenging times.
Let us go forth as valiant women of justice and peace. Amen.
(Source: Adaptation of Miriam Therese Winter’s “Valiant Women”
by Cathy O’Keefe, Sisters of Mercy website)

THE WOMAN NEXT TO YOU (*)
Look around, look around you!
WHO IS THE WOMAN sitting next to you?
The woman next to you is an inexhaustible reservoir of possibility…
With possibilities that have never been completely realised…
Full of necessity and possibility…dread and desire…smiles and frowns…
laughter and tears…fears and hopes…
all struggling to find expression.
The woman next to you is striving to BECOME something in particular,
to arrive at some destination…to have a story… a song…
to be known and to know…
The woman next to you believes in something…
something precious…
stands for something…counts for something…
lives for something…
runs towards something.
The woman next to you…has problems and fears, wonders how she is doing…
and often doesn’t feel very good about it…
is often disorganized and sometimes close to chaos…
but endowed with great toughness in the face of adversity…
and able to survive great difficulties.
The woman next to you is a colony of persons…
persons all met during her lifetime…
father and mother, friend and enemy.
The woman next to you has something she can do well…
something she can do better than anyone else in the whole world…
there is something that she and she alone can do…but she may not dare speak of it to you.
The woman next to you can live with you, not just alongside you…
she can live, not just for herself, but for you, also…
she can comfort, encounter, understand you if that is what you want…
and in turn she wants to be understood, too.
The woman next to you…can never be fully understood…
she is more than any description or explanation…
she can never be fully controlled nor should she be.
The woman next to you is a MYSTERY…
and the WORD MADE FLESH is MYSTERY.
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us… and so, look around you… for CHRIST IS HERE, HE DIED and IS RISEN, ALLELUIA!
(*) Please note in the above poem that use of the term “woman” can also signify any person.
(Source: SNJM website)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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