The United Church of Christ suggests that churches celebrate “Just Peace” or “Peace with Justice” Sunday on the Sunday each year that precedes September 21, the United Nations International Day of Prayer for Peace. I wrote some resources for colleagues in New Hampshire, US, and share them here.
Prayer for Just Peace (Micah 6:8)
God, who never “teaches to the test,”
help us embrace your requirement
as an invitation to community …
that we may do just peace and just economy,
just environment and just eating,
just policing and just politics,
just energy and just education,
just medicine and just marriage,
just faith and just interfaith …
love kindness enough
to listen to and be in dialogue with
those who do not think or live
or vote or pray the way we do …
and walk humbly under every sky,
as if it were ours,
because it is yours. amen
Prayer of Confession (Jeremiah 8: 18-9:1)
God, there are harvests past,
and yet not everyone has been fed.
There are summers ended,
and not everyone is in a school.
We have sung of Balm in Gilead
but your people need health care.
We have prayed for just peace
for more than thirty-three years,
and still for the hurt of your poor people —
for migrants drowned, denied, deported,
for the deaths of black people
and violence against police,
for fear in public places
and incivility in public speech —
we are still weeping.
We are a fountain of tears —
weeping for the summer ended
in Nice and Orlando,
Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights,
Dallas and Turkey,
for the heat of climate change,
for the losses beyond number
of those who need a home
where no bullets fly.
Forgive us, strengthen us,
and give us hope and a blessing. Amen
Assurance of Grace
We have just forgiveness – enough to begin again.
We have the peace of forgiveness – God’s grace sustains us,
and God’s blessing grants us life.
Call to Worship (Psalm 85)
Come to worship – just open the door.
Come to worship where we pass the peace.
God speaks the words of peace
to those with open hearts.
All the ways we love
and all the ways we trust
meet together here.
Justice and peace are so close,
that they kiss each other.
Faithfulness rises up from the community,
And hope-living looks down upon us.
God gives what is good to God’s people —
justice for journey’s path
and peace as its destination.
May the need for justice –
break your heart,
bee-sting your conscience,
open your mouth,
mark your platitudes “spam,”
gnaw like puppy-teeth
on your self-satisfied shoes,
and change your life.
May the abundance of peace
overflow this church,
transform your Monday mornings
and your Saturday nights,
gentle your sadness,
juggle your imagination,
feel incredibly heavy, prickly and skunk-scented
until you give it away,
and away, and away, and away,
and it comes back home.
Reading for seven adult voices and a child’s voice
A child’s voice: What does peace mean when you add justice to it?
V 1: Peace at the table, only when everyone eats.
V2: Peace by the bed, only when the world sleeps safely.
V3: Peace in the love story,
when all the lovers can be “married happily ever after,” if they want it.
V4: Peace in the family,
where there is work for all, school for all,
where sickness is cared for in the body and the soul.
V5: Peace in the faith that celebrates every name of God,
and breathes a little non-invasive blessing
in the general vicinity of nones.
V6: Peace for the earth and the ocean. Peace for the energy and the climate.
Peace for endangered creatures, and for all plants bearing seeds.
V7: Peace in the spirit for everyone who came to worship this morning —
sad or happy, doubting or certain, fearful or relaxed or just a little bored,
lonely or loving, or so confused.
That’s what peace means when you add justice to it.
A child’s voice: That’s “just” about peace for everyone.