Special -- We Are One Family

An Intercessory Prayer for Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day, or the preceding Sunday

On December 10, 1948, the international community officially adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Commemorating the hope and vision of that landmark document, Human Rights Day is an occasion in our worship life to bring together convictions about human rights and Christian faith.

This three-part prayer is appropriate for use as an introduction to the prayers of the people or as a commemorative litany in conjunction with other Human Rights Day activities. The concluding prayer may be read in unison by all persons in the congregation.

Reader One: Creator Spirit, One God, Loving Mother and Father to us all, you have given us life. You have gathered us together as one human family. You call us to know one another. You call us to a path of love. You call us to justice—in thought, in action, in intention. You have taught us that we are one family and that the joys felt by some are meant to be joys for all. Likewise, the suffering of any diminishes us all. We pray that you will guide us so that we may serve you faithfully by honoring our brothers and sisters. Today we are dedicated to remembering the rights of all your people. We pray today for the safety, security, and well being of your children. We remember those who have been dispossessed, shunned, hurt, and impoverished by others. We remember your children, O God.

All Readers: We honor you, One God, Mother and Father of all. Teach us to love one another as you have loved us.

Reader Two: We call upon you, O God, to remember those among us who have been dispossessed of the lands of their heritage. We hold up our brothers and sisters of Iraq who live in chaos and violence. We hold up our sisters and brothers of Afghanistan, who struggle for peace and well-being. We pray for the Palestinian people, and for all those who live on holy lands that are troubled and know no peace. We hold up the people of Haiti. We hold up the people of Zimbabwe and Sudan, who are beset by malnutrition and starvation, willful political violence, intimidation, and the immoral use of food aid by their governments. We hold up the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, held away from their homes without recourse or representation. We hold up our sisters and brothers of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. We hold up our sisters and brothers of Vieques (pronounced Vee-eh-kes), who continue to struggle to live in lands that have been poisoned and tormented by bombing practices of decades. We hold up our Native brothers and sisters, and those whose lands, relics, cultural and spiritual remains have been appropriated by others. We hold up the Chamorro people of Guhan (known in our country as Guam). We hold up the indigenous people of Africa. We hold up the Aborigines of Australia. For the people of our earth who have lost the lands of their history and parentage, O God, we ask your blessings, and we ask that the richness of the heritage of earth's people be restored.

All Readers: O God, for all who have suffered the loss of their homelands, we ask you to bestow blessings and bounty.

Reader Three: O God, we know that you claim all of us as your own. For all of us who claim you as our own, refusing to honor the rightful claim of others to your parentage, we ask your forgiveness.

All Readers: Holy Spirit, we ask your forgiveness for our sins.

Reader One: One God, Father and Mother of us all, we remember those in prison. We pray for your blessings and the peace of your love for those who wait for death. We ask you to grace those who dare to speak against injustice and are imprisoned for seeking to liberate oppressed people in our own country. Forgive us when we forget them.

All Readers: Holy Spirit, we ask your forgiveness for our sins.

Reader Two: For the children of our world whose parents languish in jails, we ask your mercy. For the children who grow up in prisons in our country, we ask your mercy.

All Readers: One God, Mother and Father of all, teach us to love one another as you have loved us.

Reader Three: For the children who go to bed hungry in our land of plenty, we ask for your mercy. For those of us who go to bed with full stomachs, we ask you to guide us to share with those in need. For those who have been victims of abuse, whether by physical force or by the sin of corporate greed, we ask you to restore them with your love.

All Readers: Guide us in your ways, O God. Help us to be just.

Reader One: O God, we remember our brothers and sisters to you. We commend them to your care, just as we commend ourselves to your care. Show us how to help one another. Teach us how to be just and merciful, just as you offer your graciousness to us.

All Readers: Guide us in your ways, O God. Help us to be just.

Reader Two: Together, as the people of God, we pray for justice:

People: Creator, One God, Mother and Father of us all, give us greater compassion. Guide us so that we might take on another's burden and lighten the way for a sister or brother. Teach us humility and lead us along the pathways of justice and righteousness, for your sake. Grant to all those who suffer the assurance of your love. We praise you, and we thank you for the gift of kinship we share with one another. May we honor this gift today and always. Amen.

This prayer was written by Sala W. J. Nolan, minister for criminal justice and human rights, from Justice and Witness Ministries: A Covenanted Ministry of the United Church of Christ. For more information on Human Rights Day, contact her at nolans@ucc.org; by phone at 216.736.3716; or at 700 Prospect Avenue East, Cleveland, Ohio, 44115-1100.

Copyright 2002 Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio. Permission is granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved. Designed and printed by Resource Design and Production Services, Local Church Ministries.

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CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org