The United Nations has designated June 20 as World Refugee Day — a day to commemorate the strength, courage and resilience of millions of refugees. To help churches and groups mark this important day, MCC has prepared a worship and information packet called “Hospitality and Hope: Resources for Worship, Learning and Action.” The following prayer, written by Steve Plenert, is excerpted from the packet.
Lord Jesus Christ,
We remember that in your infancy you were a refugee. The political leaders of your country sought to end your life, and so your parents fled with you to another country in secret. We don’t know how long before you were able to return to your home and your people.
Help us, O Lord, to grow in compassion for those who are displaced from their homes in our day. Help us not to see them only as problems, statistics or threats. Help us to see refugees as fellow humans who have been forced to flee their homes, and as people who have gifts to share with us.
O God, we know refugees and displaced persons must make excruciating decisions, and we ask for your mercy upon them. We ask for mercy for parents who take children from their homes. Mercy for children who leave parents too weak to travel. Mercy for those who choose to stay for whatever reasons and who live with severe consequences for those choices. We ask for mercy for those whose housing is inadequate – cold in winter, hot in summer, insufficient for privacy or hygiene or satisfaction. Have mercy on your children who have left their homes, O Lord.
O God, we know – sometimes too well – the causes of displacement and migration. We pray for the situations that have led to the refugee crises in our world. We pray for those who promote extremist ideologies, that they would change their ways and not choose violence. We pray for repressive regimes, that they would seek to engage people in building freedom.
Help us, O Lord, to be compassionate and to know how we can help those who have been displaced. Help us to know when it is time to provide relief, when it is time for resettlement, and when advocacy for peace and change is what is needed most. Give us courage and strength to be people of compassion and justice in the face of complex and overwhelming demands.
We know that you love all people, dear Lord. Help us to be the instruments of your love and peace in the world. Amen.