UN International Day of Peace (Sept 21)

Each year the UN International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. Here’s the link to a Wikipedia article with some of the history. Here’s a link to Decade to Overcome Violence and a link to prayers for peace, and a Song for Peace.

Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither flight nor fight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and oppressors free. (Walter Brueggeman)

Peace, Salaam, Shalom

Peace to every land that faces stress, crisis, tension, or struggle. Peace to every community that searches for justice, reconciliation, and restoration. Peace to nations suffering from natural disasters and trying to rebuild. Peace in the hearts of leaders who can resolve the divisions between human beings. Peace to those of every faith who pray for peace and work for peace. Peace in the kinship of hope between us all. Peace for our elders and our children. Peace in our minds and in our hearts. Peace to all living things. Peace, we pray, peace.
(Source: Bishop Steven Charleston)

Peace liturgy

Praise Be Peace: Psalms of Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of War and Climate Change (published January 2020)
“International peace activist Fr. John Dear has always found support and comfort in the psalms. In this profound and deeply reflective book he helps us see that if we read the psalms from Jesus vision of nonviolence, we will find new strength to turn away from hate and anger toward greater trust and devotion to God and newfound wisdom, gratitude, and wonder. Filled with stories from his life and steeped in wisdom from both the Eastern and the Western peace traditions, these powerful and prayerful contemplations of thirty-two key psalms will strengthen our daily commitment to nonviolence and love”.
“With God comes love, mercy, generosity, kindness, faithfulness, security, and peace towards yourself, your neighbour, all humanity, and all creation. In the psalms you hear the divine call to serve and liberate the poor and oppressed and establish universal peace with justice for every human being and all creation”.
John Dear has been an active peacemaker for four decades. John has learned from Mahatma Gandhi and Gandhi’s interpretation and application of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Just as in previous books he has used Gandhi’s satyagraha methods of nonviolent social change as a lens on the gospels and the teachings of Jesus, so in this new volume, John uses his understanding of Jesus’ thoroughgoing nonviolence as an interpretive key to the Psalms. “We Christians are summoned to be as nonviolent as Christ, and so we need to avoid anything and everything that promotes violence, including scriptural texts calling for violence and war.” John is bold to look elsewhere than the “imprecatory” psalms and to find the “God of peace” whom Jesus deemed Father all through the Book of Psalms. In their recommendations inside the front cover, Ken Butigan calls this book “a sacred space inviting us to encounter the God of Peace,” and Gerry Straub writes, “Like the psalms themselves, this is a book to be prayed, not just read.”

The Peace That We Share
Tune: To God be the Glory
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.

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!

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!

Biblical References: Matthew 5:9; Matthew 5:23-24; John 14:27; James 3:18; Isaiah 2:3-4; Luke 2:14; Luke 19:41
Tune: William Howard Doane, 1875 (“To God Be the Glory”)
Text: © 2015 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
bcgillette@comcast.net     www.carolynshymns.com/

Peace in our time – music and words by Melvyn Cann (Australian composer and musician), sung by Rachel and uploaded to Youtube with images. Could be used as prayers of intercession meditation.

We will seek peace and pursue it liturgy (Iona/Wild Goose Publications – link here).
A book of readings, reflections and prayers about ‘the bombs and bullets and landmines we drop into the heart of other people’s lives’ – and the many good folk working for peace and reconciliation at home and abroad. It can be used for personal and group reflection or in worship. The title comes from one of the closing responses of the morning service in Iona Abbey: Go in peace to love and to serve; We will seek peace and pursue it.

Live in the light liturgy PDF download (Iona/Wild Goose publications – link here)
Five reflections on peace and reconciliation that follow a pattern of beginning with inner reconciliation, moving through reconciliation in our worshipping community or church, to reconciliation in the world. Written by Ruth Harvey, Head of Training and Peace-building for Place for Hope, a Scottish-based mediation agency working with faith communities and churches.

Peace is more than a quiet morning with a calm sea
more than cessation of noise when building stops
It is more than a warm feeling somewhere below your heart
more than order and tidiness when the kids are in bed
Peace is strong and robust, just and fair
Peace is hard won and worthwhile,
the work of communities of peacemakers worldwide.
Let us sing today for peace,
Let us sing for peace together.
(Source: St Andrew’s on The Terrace, Hato Anaru o Te Parehua)

Peace by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)
When will you ever, Peace, wild wood dove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?
O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.

Prayer For Peace
As the fever of day calms towards twilight
May all that is strained in us come to ease.
We pray for all who suffered violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them.
For those who risk their lives each day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence at the heart of history.
That those who make riches from violence and war
Might hear in their dreams the cries of the lost.
That we might see through our fear of each other
A new vision to heal our fatal attraction to aggression.
That those who enjoy the privilege of peace
Might not forget their tormented brothers and sisters.
That the wolf might lie down with the lamb,
That our swords be beaten into ploughshares
And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.
(Source: John O’Donohue from Benedictus: A Book of Blessings)

A Prayer for Peace
Gracious Lord, we dream of a world free of poverty and oppression, and we yearn for a world free of vengeance and violence. We pray for your peace.
When our hearts ache for the victims of war and oppression, help us to remember that you healed people simply by touching them.
Give us faith in our ability to comfort and heal bodies and minds and spirits that have been broken by violence.
When the injustice of this world seems too much for us to handle, help us to remember that you fed five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.
Give us hope that what we have to offer will turn out to be enough, too.
When fear of the power and opinions of others tempts us not to speak up for the least among us, help us to remember that you dared to turn over the tables of money changers.  Give us the courage to risk following you without counting the cost.
When we feel ourselves fill with anger at those who are violent and oppressive, help us remember that you prayed for those who killed you.
Give us compassion for all peoples.
When we tell ourselves that we have given all we can to bring peace to this world, help us to remember your sacrifice.
Give us the miracle of losing a little more of ourselves in serving you and our neighbours.
Walk with us, Lord, as we answer your call to be peacemakers. Increase our compassion, our generosity and our hospitality for the least of your children. Give us the courage, the patience, the serenity, the self-honesty and the gentleness of spirit that are needed in a world filled with turmoil and terror.
You show us the way and we follow. Transform the compassion of our hearts into acts of peace, mercy, and justice. Amen.

~ adapted from a prayer by Jack Knox, pastor of Salem (Oregon) Mennonite Church. Posted on Glocal Christianity: the blog of Matt Stone. http://mattstone.blogs.com/

Peace tattoo
Children need to breathe the air of protest
walk together, arm in arm with strangers
wear badges of hope and T-shirts with lifelines

Sing words of wisdom and history
chant choric responses of camaraderie
in a mass movement of human voices.

Understand the justice of causes
and the constant need for change.
The dignity of freedom
and the strength of real choices

Find courage to lead others by honourable action
spreading metaphors of compassion
over roads of pain and tears.

Letting the certainty of liberty
beat with their hearts
as strong as empathy

And may peace be tattooed
on every breath
they ever breathe.

(M. L. Emmett, Convenor of Friendly Street Poets. Her first book of poetry Snatching Time was published by Wakefield Press in 2009)

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
(Source:Lao-Tse, 6th c. BCE)

Peace is not an absence of conflict and violence.  It is a set of relationships based on justice, participation and a recognition of our mutual humanity and inter-dependence. It is easy to blame those who stridently highlight injustice and oppression as being the ones who disturb the peace, but they are in fact pointing out that peace does not exist where there is institutional violence or injustice. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers, not by ignoring sources of conflict and violence, but by committing ourselves to non-violent action to bring about a set of relationships based on justice, equality and participation.
Let us say together a short litany of peace:
We commit ourselves:
To being peacemakers in our own lives, families, and communities as well as nationally and internationally
Blessed are the peacemakers
To building relationships based on justice, equality and participation as the only true basis for a peaceful society
Blessed are the peacemakers
To forgiving others when they do wrong against us
Blessed are the peacemakers
To not ignoring the real sources of conflict and violence
Blessed are the peacemakers
To not retaliating when we are attacked or criticised
Blessed are the peacemakers
To resolving conflict constructively through dialogue
Blessed are the peacemakers
(Source: Roger Courtney, Progressive Christianity)

We are moulded, each one of us,
in the image of God,
and within our souls there is a fingerprint
none can erase.
We pray for those who have no regard
for anyone but self,
who put no value on human life.
For nations and individuals who abuse and kill.
We are not called to be judge or jury,
but we are called to be agents of change,
and if the butterfly that flaps its wings
should be our attitude to others
then so be it, Lord,
and may the hurricane this generates
somewhere within the world
reach into the hearts and souls of those
for whom we pray, and reveal to them
how precious are those
for whom they have no love,
and how precious are they
who now bring tears to the eyes of God.
(Source: John Birch, A Prayer for Peace)

We come to you God our Creator.
You are the source of life, beauty and power.
Your son Jesus is the way of faith, hope and love.
Your spirit is the fire of love, the book of wisdom, the bond of unity.
You call us at all times to be people of blessing,
Witnesses of peace, love and forgiveness.
You call us now when violent differences and wars
heavy pressure on people in many countries.
Suffering and violence has already broken their lives.
We renew your invitation to receive.
We make a promise
bring the light of the gospel to those living in darkness,
bring the gospel hope to those living in distress,
bring healing gospel to the lonely,
for the underprivileged and the exempted,
and bring the gospel peace to the shared,
into a world of different ways. Amen.
(A prayer on the substance of Ecumenical Responsibility Week)

Day of peace
Earth goes around so slowly, slowly.
Day turns to night and back again.
Winter to spring and summer to autumn.
Year upon year from when to when,
and we’re coming around to the Day of Peace.

Species evolve so slowly, slowly.
Wonder on wonder they appear,
Fashioned by God, the great and lowly
Live on the earth where life is dear,
and we’re coming around to the Day of Peace.

Walls breaking down so slowly, slowly.
Eyes start to see and ears to hear.
Dogmas shift and all is holy; the
time is right and God is near,
and we’re coming around to the Day of Peace.
(Joan Reppert, Progressive Christianity; original music score here)

Passing the peace
This is a house of God. A place of peace.
A place where we befriend one another. (RMitchell)
Let us greet another as a sign of God’s peace
and of our shared friendship.
The peace of God is here… to stay (Iona).
Thanks be to God.
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours.
A sign of peace is exchanged

Peace to the world and to all creatures,
peace to the world and to all people,
peace to fathers, peace to mothers, peace to our brothers and sisters.
Peace to the vastness of the sky, peace to the depths of the seas,
peace to the silence of the world. Amen.
(Source: John Philip Newell, translation by Kati Pirttima)


Give us a vision of peace, Lord, we pray (Tune: Slane)
Give us a vision of peace, Lord, we pray,
peace for tomorrow and peace for today,
peace for this planet whose future we hold,
peace for the children and peace for the old.

Give us a vision of peace that will be
firm as a mountain and wide as the sea,
peace in our prayers, in our praise and our pain,
peace for the children who cry out in vain.

Give us a vision of peace, Lord of all,
peace for the great one and peace for the small,
peace in our labor and peace in our sleep,
peace for the children, a promise to keep.

Give us a vision of peace for our age,
peace for the healing of hatred and rage,
peace for our living together as one,
peace for the children when our life is done.
(Words: Mary Kay Beall, © 1999 Hope Publishing Company)

Gentle God when we are driven
Words: © 1982 Shirley Murray Music: © 1982 Jillian Bray
Gentle God, when we are driven
past the limits of our love,
when our hurt would have a weapon and the hawk destroy the dove,
at the cost of seeming weak, help us turn the other cheek.

Gentle Spirit, when our reason
clouds in anger, twists in fear,
when we strike instead of stroking, when we bruise and sting and smear,
cool our burning, take our pain, bring us to ourselves again.

In the mirror of earth’s madness let us see our ravaged face,
in the turmoil of all people
let compassion find a place,
touch our hearts to make amends, see our enemies as friends.

Let our strength be in forgiving as forgiven we must be,
one to one in costly loving, finding trust and growing free,
gentle God, be our release, gentle Spirit, teach us peace.

Sing for Peace
Words © 2004 Shirley Murray. Music © Vivien Chiu

Everything that has voice
sing for peace, speak for peace,
given chance, given choice,
work for peace, write for peace, resonating ev’rywhere,
echoing our common care:
ev’rything that has voice, sing for peace!

All the world longs for peace
cries for peace, dies for peace,
let the children, every place
sleep in peace, grow in peace,
home and country safe to be where the spirit rises free,
all the world longs for peace, cries for peace.

Ev’ryone who has breath,
you and I, passers-by,
ev’ry tenant of the earth
plant for peace, gather peace,
cultivate a neighbourhood
cherishing our neighbours’ good:
ev’ryone who has breath, live in peace! (Repeat final verse)

It is time, let the white poppies bloom
Words: ©2015 Shirley Murray. Music ©2015 Colin Gibson

It is time! Let the white poppies bloom
and the blood of the past stain no more;
It is time for the sowing of seed
that will outgrow the jungles of war.

And the soul of the world will be healed (will be healed)
and the darkness give way to the sun,
and the terror of nuclear night will be gone
in a peace that will never be done.

It is time that the white poppies grow
through the hatreds and hurts that survive,
it is time for the tumbling of towers,
and the building of trust kept alive.

And the soul of the world will be healed…

It is time: let the white petals float
over countries and cultures and lands;
It is time that the dreams that were lost
be reclaimed by our hearts and our hands.

And the soul of the world will be healed…

Song: O Day of peace that dimly shines
O day of peace that dimly shines
through all our hopes and prayers and dreams,
guide us to justice, truth, and love,
delivered from our selfish schemes.
May swords of hate fall from our hands,
our hearts from envy find release,
till by God’s grace our warring world
shall see Christ’s promised reign of peace.

Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb,
nor shall the fierce devour the small;
as beasts and cattle calmly graze,
a little child shall lead them all.
Then enemies shall learn to love,
all creatures find their true accord;
the hope of peace shall be fulfilled,
for all the earth shall know the Lord.
(Words Carl P Daw © 1982 Hope Publishing Company)

U2, Peace on earth


Invitation to communion
We are an open community and all are invited to Christ’s table. Wherever you are on your faith’s journey, wherever you have come from and wherever you are going to, whatever you believe, whatever you do not believe, you are welcome to participate in the communion. This is God’s meal for all people.

Communion liturgy
Lift up your hearts
We lift them up
Let us give thanks and praise
at this sacred table,
we give thanks and praise this day for Peace
It is right to give thanks and praise
for we have been granted access
to the deepest peace known to humanity;
Peace passing all understanding, soothing hearts, calming minds.
A peace hard won and deeply valued by all those over the centuries
who have worked for peace and made peace and kept the peace.
Hope in this peace has endured
through war and nuclear bomb
through riots and anarchy
through chaos, abuse and violence.
And as we sing the ancient words
we range ourselves alongside
all who have worked for peace through the ages,
who lived and worked with Jesus and all his followers since.
Holy, holy, holy One,
filled with power and might
Heaven and earth are filled with your glory The glory of the power that is love
Blessed are they who come
in the name of all that is life giving and loving Hosanna in the highest
Let gratitude ring across the sky
Blessed is our brother Jesus, sometimes called the Prince of Peace, who walks with us in the spirit of life, who, after a meal with his friends, people much like us, took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said:
‘This is my body which is for you
Do this to remember me’
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying words like
‘This cup is the new covenant,
Do this whenever you drink it, to remember me.’
Come now disturbing Spirit
breathe on these earthly things and make us one.
Open our eyes, unlock our hearts, name us here;
Heal, in us and our world, all which needs healing
transforming despair into hope
that we may go out with power to release peace in the world.

Communion is served by intinction. You are invited to come to the front of the church and receive the bread, or a gluten-free cracker, taking a piece large enough to dip into the wine (silver cup) or grape juice (pottery cup). Then you’re invited to eat the bread (cracker) dipped in wine or juice.

Or, remain in your seat to be served if mobility is difficult. If you don’t wish to receive communion, please remain in your seat – we’re glad you are here with us.

(Source: St Andrew’s on The Terrace, Hato Anaru o Te Parehua, New Zealand. Adapted from All Desires Known by Janet Morley. The original of this prayer was first used on Easter Day 1987 in the St Hilda Community)

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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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