UN International Human Rights Day.December10

Gathering Song suggestion:
A New Heart For A New World T Watts/M O’Brien (Gather Australia, No 438)

Leader: Introduction

Why do we gather to pray this day?

The promotion and protection of human rights has been a major preoccupation for the United Nations since 1945, when the Organization’s founding nations resolved that the horrors of The

Second World War should never be allowed to recur. Respect for human rights and human dignity “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”, the General Assembly declared three years later in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, all States and interested organizations were invited by the General Assembly to observe 10 December as Human Rights Day (resolution 423(V)). This Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Over the years, a whole network of human rights instruments and mechanisms has been developed to ensure the primacy of human rights and to confront human rights violations wherever they occur. (UN website)

Why do we gather to pray this day?

We gather this day because we know that the human rights of millions of people on our planet are denied every day. This denial of human rights results in acute poverty, abuse, violence and despair. We gather together to reflect on this reality and to be in solidarity with those who suffer. We gather so that we may move forward with hearts and minds focused on our work to bring justice for all.

Reading: Isaiah ‐ 11:6 ‐10

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of our God as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

The word of the Lord/ Thanks be to God

Leader: Let us pause to reflect on God’s word to us. Let us pray together:

God of abundance, gift us with open and generous hearts. Stretch our hearts to constantly work for true harmony and right relationships in our families and communities. Guide us to work for right relationships among the people we work with, the people we socialise with and the people we meet with in the community so that together we can create circles or harmony that spread to bring about a world of justice for all. We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, bringer of peace. Amen

Reader 2: Let us listen to the words of Oscar Romero

God’s reign is already present on our earth in mystery. When the Lord comes, it will be brought to perfection. That is the hope of Christians. We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.
March 24, 1980 Archbishop Oscar Romero spoke these last words on March 24, 1980, minutes before being suddenly assassinated


A number of human rights also concern human welfare and are of a specifically economic nature. First among these are the rights to life, food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and basic education. These are indispensable to the protection of human dignity. … All persons have a right to security in the event of sickness, unemployment, and old age … the right to healthful working conditions, to wages, and other benefits sufficient to provide individuals and their families with a standard of living in keeping with human dignity, and to the possibility of property ownership. Economic Justice for All, #80

Leader: Let us pray:

God of justice, stir our hearts to stand in solidarity with all whose rights are daily violated. Confirm in us a resolve to preserve in our commitment to make sure that the common good of all is upheld in every way. We make this prayer through Jesus, bringer of justice. Amen

Suggested Song Response: Open My Eyes by Jesse Manibusan

Leader: Before we pray our litany of Commitment let us pause and call to mind the faces

of those whose human rights are denied and violated this day….

Reader 1: We are called to announce the Good News that speaks of justice for all

I pledge my love and compassion

Reader 2: We are called to share our resources so that no one goes hungry

I pledge my love and compassion

Reader 3: We are called to provide meaningful work for all

I pledge my love and compassion

Reader 1: We are called to honour the human dignity of each

I pledge my love and compassion

Reader 2: We are called to speak out against slave labour

I pledge my love and compassion

Reader 3: We are called to work for a world where people can walk freely in their own land

We are called to be sister and brother to each other

Reader 1: We are called to make sure more is spent on feeding people than on weapons

We are called to be sister and brother to each other

Reader 2: We are called to protect the earth’s resources so that there is enough for all

We are called to be sister and brother to each other 

Reader 3: We are called to protect the sick and the vulnerable

We are called to be sister and brother to each other

Reader 1: We are called to enable people to determine their own destiny

We are called to be sister and brother to each other

Reader : We are called to take action when women and children are violated

We are called to be sister and brother to each other 

Reader2: We are called to denounce all that takes life

We are called to be sister and brother to each other

Leader: As we take leave of our gathering today, let us offer each other a sign of peace and pray a blessing for each other so that we go forth committed to playing our part in bringing about a world of justice and peace.

Suggested Closing Song: Bring Forth the Kingdom

(Source: Sisters of St Joseph, North Sydney Australia. www.sosj.org.au)

Call to Prayer:
Leader: Pope Francis reminds us “human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities.” Today we seek to honor the dignity of all peoples. God, you have created us in our own image, inspire in us the courage to stand in solidarity with those who are being denied their basic human rights. May we always remember that to deny others their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

Reader: Matthew 25: 34-40
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.
Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you
sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.
Leader: We hear your voice, O God. Thus, we pray
* For the 852 million people in our world who are malnourished, lacking an adequate amount of healthy food;
* For the mothers and fathers throughout the world who sacrifice health treatment and medicines for themselves so they can provide for their children;
* For workers who work in difficult and unsafe conditions for low pay, with no vacations, no paid holidays, no benefits, and no job security;
* For our sisters and brothers in more than 60 countries who have fled armed conflicts and are searching for safety, many are children, women, and the elderly who live in temporary shelters, camps or shanty towns, struggling to survive in new and often hostile environments;
* For those who have sought refuge in another country, that they will be entitled to certain rights under international law.

Leader: God of justice and mercy, help us remember this day that you have created each and every person with dignity and worth.
In all that we do, help us treat one another with the respect and honor due to each person.
Leader: This day we remember and give thanks for the 64th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We honour the courage of those who came before us, who sought to declare that, regardless of any differences among people, we all share basic human rights.
Leader: We also remember this day the adoption of the Convention Against Torture by the United Nations General Assembly.
We pray that every generation may learn that there is no excuse for torture, that torture is always wrong.
Leader: We pray for every life that has been touched by torture, both those tortured and the torturers. We pray for restoration and peace.
We pray for fortitude in the face of fear and that we might do what is right and just.
Leader: We pray for governments and persons who seek to prevent torture and who support survivors of torture.
We pray for strength and steadfastness in the work of repairing the world. In all things may we honor you, O God, and honor the dignity of each person. Amen.

Closing Prayer may be recited or song: Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
(Source: Education for Justice)

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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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