Prayer requests- Ponte Sant' Angelo Methodist Church

Prayers

May you be well,
And all whom you love,
And those you work with,
And all who eat of the crops you handle.

That has been my prayer/mantra at least one afternoon a week for the past month, as I joined with other volunteers to prepare 100,000 Covid-19 prevention kits to be given to agricultural workers in part of California (U.S.). One washable cloth mask, one small bottle of hand sanitizer, several small multi-lingual instruction cards in each zip lock bag. One bag, one prayer. Fifty completed bags in each box; another prayer. Looking at the stacks and stacks of boxes ready to be delivered to the agencies who will pass the kits out; another prayer.

For all who face the risk of Covid-19, or extreme heat, or smoke, or drought, or flooding in order to feed themselves and others; for all who work in the fields, and harvest the seas, and nurture the livestock; for all who gather and transport and package and prepare the food we eat; for all who have barely enough food to survive, and those who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and those for whom mealtime is a feast of abundance:

May you be well,
And all whom you love,
And those you work with,
And all who share in the fruits of the planet.

It is so, so hard to pray for those who want to hurt us or endanger the lives of those we love.  The Russian and Chinese (and probably other) agencies using social media to foment unrest and influence elections in other countries. Whoever started QAnon, and all the social media and dark web sites that are allowing its conspiracy theories to spread. United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government, who have threatened to override elements of the Brexit withdrawal agreement with the European Union – even though that would violate international law. The Niger army that, instead of protecting civilians, has now been accused by Niger’s human rights commission of executing dozens of civilians during counterinsurgency operations.

Countries treating dissent as treachery: China, arresting people in Inner Mongolia who protest against the edict that Chinese language textbooks must replace Mongolian language ones; opposition leaders in Belarus who have been terrorized, detained, and threatened with deportation.

United States President Donald Trump, who has made more than 20,000 lies or misleading comments during the past 15 months – including, it has now been proven this week, lying repeatedly about the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, and repeatedly denigrating those who serve in the U.S. armed forces. And U.S. legislators who have failed to extend financial relief to the millions who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and are now facing eviction and homelessness. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro giving in to international pressure to protect the rainforest against fires by imposing a 120-day ban on fires and deploying the army to badly-hit areas – while simultaneously declaring the fires a lie.

It is so, so hard to pray for them. And yet, it is like watching a teenager engaging in a risky activity despite everything you can do to dissuade them: you hope, and hope, and hope they will come to their senses before anyone gets hurt. Despite being terrified and furious, despite the desire to lock them in their room without privileges until they turn 30 (at least), still you pray for them to escape the worst consequences of their rash actions.

And so we pray for all governments and corporations and individuals who are endangering lives, and for those whose lives are endangered:

May you be well,
And all whom you govern,
And those who rule over you,
And all who must choose ways to live together in mutual benefit.

In California, Oregon and Washington (U.S.), the skies are orange, the sun invisible, and smoke and ash from the 56 major wildfires currently burning over 3.7 million acres is making the air unhealthy to breath; thousands have been evacuated. Greece is struggling to find shelter for the 13,000 migrants who had been living in the overcrowded Moria camp on the Island of Lesbos, until it was destroyed by fire earlier this week. Sudanis trying to protect its 2,300-year-old pyramids in Meroe from unprecedented flooding by the River Nile, which has also made thousands homeless. Yet, experts have known for at least 20 years how to manage forests and grasslands to prevent massive wildfires. We know how to treat migrants with dignity and safety. We have learned how to restore wetlands and floodplains to mitigate flooding. We are learning how to plant and farm in order restore depleted groundwater and break the cycle of desertification.

For those who are fighting natural disasters; for those waiting to hear if their homes have survived, for those living in fear, and those wondering how they will once again find the strength to start over; for those whose warnings and advice have been ignored, and those who know what to do but not how to rally massive support and resources:

May you be well,
And all whom you want to protect,
And the earth that we cherish.

Several well-known figures died this week. Chadwick Boseman, the U.S. movie actor who starred as Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown, and inspired audiences worldwide as the regal Black Panther, died at age 43. Through him, many Black children for the first time were able to see themselves as strong, beautiful, worthy, and able to change the world. English actress Dame Diana Rigg, who starred in Game of Thrones and as Countess Teresa di Vicenzo, wife of James Bond, died at age 82. But it was her role as Emma Peel in the original Avengers that led a whole generation of young women to imagine themselves as bright, inventive, funny, and powerful against evil.  Top South African human rights lawyer George Bizos died at age 92. He represented some of the country’s best-known political activists during the apartheid years, including defending Nelson Mandela, and became one of the architects of South Africa’s new constitution.

And then there are the living heroes whom virtually no one has heard of. In Nigeria, math teacher Basirat Olamide Ajayi came up with a way to help 12th graders prepare for crucial final exams despite the Covid-19 school closures, by offering free, 5-minute video classes online via Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram. She now has more than 1,800 students – and not only from Nigeria. Also in Nigeria, Anthony Mmesoma Madu, an 11-year-old male ballet dance student in a country where ballet is almost unknown, won the hearts of the world after a video of him dancing in the rain went viral. This week, he was awarded several scholarships to continue his studies in the United States, and his teacher, self-trained Daniel Ayala, also received a scholarship for a two-week intensive U.S. training program for ballet teachers. In Sweden, a secret group of artists is sneaking stunning miniature installations for mice into public spaces in the dead of night. The clandestine collective ― called Anonymouse ―  has installed 25 pieces*, mostly in cellar windows, across Sweden, in France and on the Isle of Man. In Jerusalem, Israel, hospitals are enlisting those who recovered from Covid-19 and are antibody positive, to visit hospitalized patients who would otherwise be in isolation. In Singapore, two mothers who lost sons to suicide have started the PleaseStay movement, urging a national strategy to address youth mental health and suicide, to break the taboo against talking about these topics, and – most poignantly – to urge troubled teens and youngsters, to “please stay.”

For all heroes, alive and dead, great and small; for the hope they give us; for those whom they inspire:

May you be well,
And all whom you help,
And all whom you inspire,
And all who gladly enliven the world.

For all of who you read, and share, and pray these prayers:

May you be well,
And all whom you love,
And the great, wonderful, terrifying and awesome world you surround with your prayers.

AMEN. LET IT BE SO.

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The world in prayer