Hiroshima Day, August 6th

WCC to observe 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
August 2020 will mark 75 years since the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To coincide with the occasion the World Council of Churches will share a series of reflections of survivors and renew its call for a world without nuclear weapons.

Shane Claiborne reflects: This is not just about history – the US still has a stockpile of weapons equivalent to over 100,000 Hiroshima bombs. More recently, the US dropped 26,000 bombs in one year (2016). That’s 72 bombs a day, 3 per hour. Currently, the US has bombs that are 80 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb. There are about 15,000 nuclear warheads in the world. Only 9 of the 196 countries of the world have nuclear weapons, and 93% of the nuclear bombs are owned by only 2 countries – the US and Russia. The US has almost half of the nuclear bombs, and the US is the only country that has dropped one on people. Only 50 bombs can wipe out 200 million people (and we have over 3800 ready to go).
One has to ask, how many times do we need to blow up the world?
Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.

Psalm 121 and Hiroshima Day
I lift up my eyes to a mushroom cloud
from which death came
and illness and loss of eyes and limbs,
the burning of skins and souls,
and the sorrows of the hibakusha,
survivors of seventy-five years,
and their children,
and children’s children,
and all our children.
I must lift up my eyes to that cloud
from which comes
the creed and belief that power,
greater power, killing power
defines reality
and the long fallout of that religion.
For my hope comes from One
who shares tears and memories,
and whose power
seeks to heal
the melted skins of all the earth,
and whose gifts from heaven
are never a ball of fire,
but only the weakness of soft rain.
God is not in nuclear arsenal building,
a knee on the neck,
a wall along a border,
a pipeline through a holy place,
but neither does God slumber
while power steals hope
nor sleep through new gethsemanes.
God bows low as a manger
at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
God is a child’s hand
that folds a crane by day,
the tanka a poet writes of moonlight.
God was companion
on that day of the “noiseless flash,”
and this season of pandemic.
Going out and coming in –
God keeps us all bowed for peace,
lifted for justice.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

The Peace That We Share“…The Peace of Christ be with you… And also with you…”
TO GOD BE THE GLORY 11. 11. 11. 11 with Refrain
The peace that we share when we turn and shake hands
Is simply the peace that our Savior commands.
As Christ reigns in heaven, he calls us to live
As people forgiven, with God’s peace to give.

Refrain (after first and last verses):
May the peace that we share be for more than our friends;
As we risk and we dare so God’s kingdom extends.
Remind us again, Lord, that seeds will increase –
that you’ll give the harvest when we work for peace!

Peace grows through the dreamers who seek a new way,
Through workers who struggle to build God’s new day.
It grows through the soldiers who once fought in wars
Yet now seek a new way that heals and restores.

Peace grows through the diplomats forging a deal
And building a treaty so nations can heal.
Peace grows when our fears don’t control what we do –
When we see that others are God’s children, too.

Peace grows when our leaders are brave to spend funds
On schools and on students, not weapons and guns.
Peace grows when all citizens work for the good
So all will have housing and health care and food.

When all use their talents so conflicts will cease,
Imagining, working and risking for peace,
When nations negotiate rather than fight
Then justice is possible! Peace is in sight!

Refrain: May the peace that we share be for more than our friends;
As we risk and we dare so God’s kingdom extends.
Remind us again, Lord, that seeds will increase –
that you’ll give the harvest when we work for peace!

Text: Copyright © 2015 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Email: Carolynshymns@gmail.com New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com

A Prayer for Hiroshima Day
Like most traumatic scars, the ones that are found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are permanent: reminders of the terrible damage human beings can inflict.
Similar scars can be found in the hearts and souls of people around the world who understand this terror: scars of grief, sadness, fear and even shame.
None of these scars promise an end to war and devastation. Instead, they serve as a reminder of healing and renewal – of a return to life.
Gracious God, Spirit of Life and Love, help us to see our scars: those we have created, those we are called to witness, and those we can soothe and heal.
We are deeply grateful for the buds and blossoms that even the most scarred offer as a revelation to the world.
And, especially on the anniversary of Hiroshima Day, we renew our commitment to peace individually, collectively and globally:
To “peace within” which calms our anxieties and fears,
To “peace between” which overcomes differences, animosities and conflict,
And, to “the great peace,” beyond even our understanding, that is Your gift and which we attempt to be stewards of for the world. Amen.

Carol Hallman wrote: “I just got back from Japan a couple of weeks ago. I was greatly moved by the Atomic Dome in Hiroshima and so I wrote the attached piece in response to that. August 6th is Hiroshima Day of Remembrance.” There was a time when there would never be a worship service at the beginning of August that did not include a prayer for peace, a children’s message with cranes, a deep sadness … and many tears. Here are her words. You are freely given permission to share her them with attribution.

I did not expect
The tears
Standing on the
Holy Ground of
In the shadow
Of the dome
The ruins stand
Testament to
war bombs
hate fear
I did not expect
The tears
For people long dead
Perhaps they were
The lucky ones
No hanging onto life
So many others
Radiation sickness
Cancer lingering
But just as deadly
Killing just as surely
I did not expect
The tears
At the starkness of
The reminder
Of what war brings
Lives unlived unfulfilled
Dreams lost
Families torn apart
The bricks lie
Precisely as they
Did that day
There is a sense
Of voices long silenced
Cries long gone
Fire is out
Fear gone
I did not expect
The tears
Take off your shoes
Holy ground indeed
The Peace bell
Rings echoing
Offering hope
And a reminder
That we aren’t there
I did not expect
The tears
But they came
In remembrance
Of what once was
They came
In sorrow and in
Hope of a better

** The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (広島平和記念碑 Hiroshima Heiwa Kinenhi), is the site of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, now commonly called the Genbaku Dome, or Atomic Bomb Dome (原爆ドーム Genbaku Dōmu). The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruin of the exhibition hall memorializes those who were killed in the atomic bombing which obliterated Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Intended for the Aioi Bridge, the bomb instead exploded directly over the Shima Hospital, near to the Genbaku Dome. Because the explosion was directly overhead, it retained its shape. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly by the bomb, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.
(sourced from Gifts in Open Hands)

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial Observance Worship and Prayer Resources – UMC (excellent prayers and resources)

This is the day, August 6th,
when history reminds us
the terrorism, the barbarism we’re capable of:
destroying an entire city full of innocent civilians
just to frighten a leader or two.
Lest there be any question,
three days later we’ll do it again.
Not military targets, just shocking.
Pure terrorism.
We’ll justify it,
wrap it in strategy and politics and patriotism,
as if we had no other choice – 
but hundreds of thousands will die,
and more will suffer, for a generation,
a generation.
It’s how we do things.
We firebombed Tokyo in the night of March 9,
killed 100,00, destroyed 16 square miles of city,
and left a million homeless.
We did that to 67 Japanese cities.
Civilian deaths. Sixty-seven entire cities.
We are a great people.
And this, also, is who we are.
We will never escape our own violence
until we confess it.
We will never attain true greatness
without true honesty.
Let this be a day of confession, mourning and humility,
and a day of compassion.
Let us begin to be people of peace.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Prayers for Hiroshima Day
God our creator and sustainer, we gather to pray in the midst of a broken people who today remember the darkness and the shadow of death and destruction caused by nuclear weapons.
We know that we deal falsely with the world and with ourselves, healing wound too lightly by saying ” peace, peace” when there is no peace.
Let there be sown is us anew the unity, the light and the peace which passes all understanding. Be with us today and keep our minds and hearts in you and in your peace
We remember the 300,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who died as a result of the atomic bombs: May they rest in peace.
We remember all those who died in the war with Japan, especially those who perished in the prisoner of war camps.
We remember those who gave their lives to help those suffering after the bomb and who died of radiation sickness. May their faithful and loving witness inspire us to compassion.
We remember the people of the Middle East – in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Israel. Each day brings news of more violence. We pray that nonviolent solutions may be found to heal wounds, bring justice and lasting peace to them.
We remember those who were able to forgive the suffering inflicted on them by their enemies in war. We pray for the same greatness of heart.
We will remember the peacemaker visionaries who have come before us, and we will give thanks for their witness and their commitment to life.
We pray we may be transformed by God and witnesses to the peace message of Jesus.
Hiroshima Litany – Susan Adams, Education for Justice
Let us join in prayer on this day of remembrance for Hiroshima, to recall the past, to be challenged in the present and to seek hope for the future.
O God of power, gracious in love, you have given humankind responsibility to care for all the earth. But we have put our faith in military power, while you call us to build a community of trust and love.
By our actions and by our inaction, and by our participation in the systems of society we often become agents of violence and destruction.
O God of us all, let Hiroshima become for us a symbol of hope that nuclear weapons will never again be used to kill and destroy.
Let us remember Hiroshima as a beacon to commit ourselves to find ways to live together in peace, that we may not be just peace lovers, but peacemakers.
O God of infinite possibility, transform our hearts and minds and give us courage to use our skills and technology to transform weapons that destroy into all that upholds life.
Isaiah said: “It shall come to pass that the peoples shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
We pray for the time when “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Peace be with you
Peace be with you. God of peace, we say these words sometimes with such routine that we miss the depth and compassion of those words of Jesus to his disciples.
As disciples grant us the strength to reach into the depths of the real meaning of those words so that all that we do and say reflects the beautiful peace that comes from Jesus Christ.
Hear the prayers of those who continue to live lives torn apart by war. Grant and draw out strength of character in those who have the positions in the world to end the wars and violence that terrorize the people of the earth.
Let us remember and lift up the souls who died and the souls of who lived in in the aftermath of the bombs destruction.
Let us remember and pray “no more”.
The Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.

A prayer of remembrance
O God, the Creator of this beautiful planet
and all that dwells in it,
we now pause to remember the souls
of those who perished in the atomic bombings
and those who suffer from radiation even now.
We join our hearts and voices together
to pray for peace everywhere.
May the deadly power of nuclear arsenals
never be unleashed again upon your sacred creation.
May such weapons of mass and indiscriminate annihilations
be forever banned and eliminated from the face of the earth.
Forgive our silence, O God,
and enable your Church to raise its prophetic voices
to speak against the madness of nuclear pursuits anywhere.
Renew our commitment to be faithful stewards
of your beautiful creation
and vehicles of peace.
In the name of Christ, our Prince of Peace. Amen.
(Source: Rev. Nobu Hanaoka)

Prayers for Peace and Justice on Hiroshima Day
(World Council of Churches)
This liturgy was written for midday prayers at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. It may be reproduced and adapted for local usage.

We gather in silence. As we gather we listen to the gong, calling us to remember, calling us to pray and act for peace.

Blessed is our God, now and unto the ages of ages.
Blessed is our God, now and unto the ages of ages.
Blessed is our God,
who grants us peace and is the source of all peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers
for they shall be called children of God.

Loving God, you create and sustain all that is good and beautiful;
You give life to the earth.
You have called us to wholeness; to the fullness of life
But, as we gather here, we are conscious of our brokenness
Both as persons and as communities.
We have heard the cries for justice and peace
From all the corners of the earth.
We are moved by the tears, the pain and the agonies
of millions around the world.
We sense the dark clouds of war that creep over us;
We sit in the shadow of death.


Help us to fall on our knees and to cry for that vision of unity
Without which we would perish.
Teach us not to deal with others falsely,
Saying “peace, peace” when there is no peace.
Grant us grace that we may walk
In the paths of righteousness.
Bring us to yourself, that our hearts and minds
May discern the way of peace shown by your son.
For you alone have been our help in ages past,
And you are our shelter in the years ahead. Amen

Reading of an eye witness account from Hiroshima

Sing: Ososo, ososo …

Litany of penitence

O Lord, our hearts are heavy
with the sufferings of ages,
with the crusades and the holocausts
of a thousand thousand years.
The blood of victims is still warm.
The cries of anguish still fill the night.
To you we lift our outspread hands.
We thirst for you in a thirsty land.

O Lord, who loves us like a father
who cares for us like a mother,
who came to share our life as a brother:
we confess before you our failure to live as your children,
brothers and sisters bound together in love.
To you we lift our outspread hands.
We thirst for you in a thirsty land.

Sung response: Nkosi Nkosi yibanceba

We have squandered the gift of life.
The good life of a few
is built on the pain of many;
the pleasure of a few
on the agony of millions.
To you we lift out outstretched hands.
We thirst for you in a thirsty land.

We worship death in our quest to possess ever more things;
We worship death in our hankering after
Our own security, our own survival, our own peace,
As if life were divisible.
As if love were divisible.
As if Christ had not died for all of us.
To you we lift out outstretched hands.
We thirst for you in a thirsty land.

Sung response: Nkosis Nkosi yibanceba

O Lord, forgive our life-denying pursuit of life,
And teach us anew what it means to be your children.
To you we lift out outstretched hands.
We thirst for you in a thirsty land.

The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:2-12
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Silence (possibility to listen to Wolfgang Borchert’s Say NO!)

Thanksgiving and intercession
O Lord our God, we thank you
for the many people
who have followed your way of life joyfully:
for the many saints and martyrs, men and women
who have offered up their very lived
so that your life abundant
may become manifest
and your kingdom may advance.

Sung response: Hale hale hale luja

They chose the way of your Son,
our brother, Jesus Christ.
In the midst of trial, they held out hope;
in the midst of persecutions, they witnessed to your power;
in the midst of despair, they clung to your promise.

Sung response: Hale hale hale luja

O Lord, we thank you for the truth
they have learned and passed on to us.
Give us courage to follow their way of life.
For your love and faithfulness
we will at all times praise your name.

Sung response: Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas Deus ibi est

We pray for the millions in our world who must go hungry today,
all who are exploited and marginalized because of their caste or class, colour or sex, that they may not lose their hope, and may find the strength to struggle for their dignity.

Sung response: Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas Deus ibi est

We call upon you for those who are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured
or threatened with death because of their witness to justice and peace.

For those who have “disappeared” because they dared to speak,
that their spirits may not be broken by their bodies’ pain.

Sung response: Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas Deus ibi est

We remember those who live in regions torn by tension and war,
by disaster, famine and poverty…

We pray especially for the Middle East, for Pakistan, for Haiti, for the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the horn of Africa, for Sudan …(other places and situations can be mentioned at this point)

We pray for the millions of refugees around the world, that in the midst of tears and bitterness they may discern signs of hope.

Sung response: Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas Deus ibi est

Lord, into your hands we commend our earth, ever-threatened with disaster, and all persons and situations we have spoken about, written down or remembered in the silence of our hearts this day.

Sung response: Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas Deus ibi est

Strengthen our will for peace and justice;
increase our faith in your kingdom where “love and faithfulness will meet, righteousness and peace will embrace”and may your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer – said together in our different languages

We receive the assurance of God’s peace and blessing and we greet one another in the name of Christ’s peace, first saying together:

Blessed is our God, now and unto the ages of ages.
Blessed is our God, who grants us peace and is the source of all peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.

Please take a peace crane with you as a fragile symbol of hope and a reminder to continue our prayers and action for peace. 

Sing: Dona nobis pacem

Poem: Transfigured and Transfixed
Noon in Galilee, Dawn by the Japanese sea.
The Spirit hovers silently, while the Enola Gay drones away.
Four men on a mountain top; 350,000 down in the valley.
The Son of Man and a bomb Christened ‘Little Boy’.
Silently the cloud descends; just as silently a parachute unfurls.
Four men see nothing but Jesus, while 75,000 are never seen again.
Whiter than any new bleached cloth the face of Christ,
brighter than a thousand suns the flash.
“This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.”
This is the nuclear age, be very afraid.
And the clouds weep their atomic rain.
Christ transfigured and the world transfixed,
the dawning of the light of Christ,
the beginning of the nuclear winter.
The date of both – August 6. Fr Rob Esdaile

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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