Throughout Canada, we pray for hope and peace for the women of Vanuatu. We thank them for writing the World Day of Prayer 2021 service which inspires us to “Build on a Strong Foundation.”
To build, we encourage applications to our annual World Day of Prayer grants that help ensure opportunities to create social justice for women and children both nationally and internationally. These are due on March 31st. Please go to the WICC website for details.
To build, the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada created a one hour WDP service video to allow the 2021 theme to travel to homes in the midst of COVID-19 regulations.
To build, our one hour service video included speakers and performers from across Canada.
To build, we have become familiar with technology that allows us to communicate when meeting in person is not/was not possible. The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada hosted WDP coordinator training sessions and “Festival Days” for hundreds of women in December and January so that resources could be shared and questions answered. We are grateful to the steady leadership and flexibility of so many as we navigate a changing world.
To build, we have encouraged World Day of Prayer to be celebrated on days and by means which help to inspire. Beginning in September 2020 and continuing into 2021, we introduced 15-minute World Day of Prayer NOW sessions on the first and third Friday of each month.
To build, we turn to prayer, root our actions in faith, and trust in God.
- Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada
El tema “Construir sobre una base firme” en medio de un contexto de pandemia, significa para nosotras colocar a Dios como cimiento de nuestras vidas, especialmente cuando tantas “rocas firmes” se han desmoronado en el 2020. Se trata de construir sobre la Palabra de Dios que nos ha sostenido, pero también de edificar sobre la base del amor fraternal que se ha hecho gesto concreto, a pesar de la distancia, a través de las redes de apoyo.
Sobre la máxima de que nuestros cuerpos son templos del Espíritu Santo, también creemos válido retomar la importancia del autocuidado y la salud integral, así como el cultivo de nuestra espiritualidad, el tiempo de calidad en familia, el cuidado de la naturaleza y una economía del compartir. Construir sobre una base sólida se trata para nosotras, de caminar juntas con Dios, viviendo un día a la vez y renovando nuestra esperanza.
La oración-acción que nuestro comité está promoviendo para este 2021 es un clamor por la salud mundial y la unidad de nuestras iglesias para seguir acompañando al pueblo cubano en servicio, amor y solidaridad, en las actuales condiciones que suponen nuevos desafíos. Oramos por continuar colaborando con el reino de Dios al construir sobre la base del intercambio de experiencias, oración y acciones concretas de apoyo mutuo entre mujeres cristianas que oran y actúan por la vida abundante.
Entre los principales planes de celebración que queremos compartir con ustedes se encuentran encuentros virtuales de unidad y oración, organizados por las promotoras del DMO. También realizaremos talleres, estudios bíblicos y jornadas de oración por WhatsApp, así como un concurso de arte para niñas y adolescentes. En las provincias que puedan reunirse presencialmente para la fecha del mes de Marzo, las coordinadoras provinciales del DMO en cada provincia facilitarán encuentros de oración con grupos pequeños, pero en el momento el panorama por causa del COVID-19 es muy complejo y es más seguro realizar los encuentros virtuales.
Ahora, queremos extender nuestras manos para construir orando, sobre la base sólida que es nuestro Dios:
Oramos por las mujeres en todo el mundo,
y especialmente por las niñas y las mujeres en Vanuatu,
Para que la esperanza de Dios les anime a vivir cada día,
Para que la misericordia de Jesús el Cristo les acompañe siempre
Y que la gracia del Espíritu Santo florezca en ellas.
Que aún detrás de la máscara no les falten la oración ni las sonrisas,
Que a pesar del distanciamiento físico y la crisis, no carezcan de amor ni de manos extendidas que sanan y bendicen.
Que podamos seguir construyendo juntas, sobre la base firme de la Palabra de Dios.
- Ruth Mariet Trueba Castro, DMO Cuba
We greet the New Year with busy WDP hands in supporting the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic in our communities. We feel empowered by the collective hope to build together the foundation for peace and justice.
Our attention now turns to the theme that will engage World Day of Prayer (WDP) in conversations and celebrations over the 2021 year. The program was developed by the WDP Committee of Vanuatu under the theme “Build on a Strong Foundation.”
Vanuatu is a beautiful country located in the South Pacific Ocean of many islands and people of many ethnic groups. World Day of Prayer can be traced back to Canadian missionaries holding the first service at the Presbyterian Paton Memorial Church in Port Villa in 1946. Since the early 2000s, with the creation of the Women’s Desk of the Vanuatu Christian Council, an ecumenical committee was formed and connected with the local WDP groups.
The current committee, who developed the WDP worship service materials, hopes that this year’s prayer experience will meet the grace of God, and that they will have the strength and resources to be in action. There are many needs in the communities that women in the churches are working together to address. During the “Let’s Talk with Vanuatu” conversation, held online in October 2020, we heard from their representatives the concerns about the situation of child malnutrition, violence against women, and natural disasters.
The Bible story that guides World Day of Prayer in 2021 is based on the sermon that Jesus told to the crowds on the hill. It is a simple story that most of us have heard since childhood (Matthew 7:24-27). “Through the comparison of two house builders, Jesus asked the listeners to act on his words. But what words? In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12). This is our solid foundation.”
We are invited to listen to Jesus’ words in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. What does it mean for you? One of the meanings we find is that healing comes when we raise our own awareness for our actions and we care for the common good. As it is said in the Bible study written by WDP Vanuatu, “The essence of the story of Jesus is to HEAR accurately the word of God, and ACT accordingly and precisely. We shall act inspired by God’s love and know that our faith without action is dead (James 2:14-16).”
#WDPUnitedInPrayer on the First Friday of March
On the first Friday of March the World Day of Prayer movement comes together united in prayer and action in the local communities across the world. This year is no different. We will pray together, but not as we were used to. We are living under the COVID-19 pandemic, and WDP cares for the wellbeing of our communities.
In many places the restrictions for in-person gatherings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are keeping the churches and schools closed for worship services. In places where in-person services are allowed, there are a series of restrictions and guidelines to congregate. WDP committees must abide by the local health protocols to keep people safe. This is one of the prayerful actions we can collectively offer to our communities.
During the pandemic we have learned that we can be physically separated but still connected. Slowly we introduced the technological learnings acquired during the time of the pandemic to our own WDP activities. Many WDP committees hold their board meetings or workshops via online conferencing, or continuously catch up with each other over mobile chats or social media. Many studied the Bible and prayed together over the phone or online. This practice will continue as we prepare to pray together with Vanuatu on the first Friday of March. We may be astounded at this new way, like the crowds were at Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 7:29); but, creatively, we can affirm that we are #WDPUnitedInPrayer and we hold onto the motto “Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action.”
How to Join a WDP Service?
If you want to join a WDP service or send your offering in response to your prayers, we encourage you to connect with the WDP National Committee in your country. You can check their contact information by visiting the WDPIC website or emailing the WDPIC office. Some committees are planning to livestream the worship service, others will hold a service via mobile chat, and in the few locations where it is allowed, a small service following the proper health protocols may be possible.
Additional to the WDP plans for national and local celebrations, World Day of Prayer International Committee (WDPIC) recorded a video of the worship service led by the WDP Vanuatu Committee and the WDPIC Executive Committee, with greetings from several WDP Committees.
The video will be released to WDP National Committees, and posted on the WDPIC YouTube channel and social media. Be sure to visit our site by the first Friday of March. The service in the video is in English, but it can be followed using the materials available in your language by the WDP Committee in your country.
Separated but connected, let’s pray together with family or friends over the phone or via online platforms, alone or in small groups. Let’s participate in the action by giving to WDP to empower the communities. Let’s stay together to “Build on a Strong Foundation.”
- Rosangela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
We are starting 2021!
Usually on the first day of the year, we look towards the future and ask ourselves about what this year holds to us.
In the Lectionary of today there are two well-known recommended Bible texts for meditation. Together, they can offer a vision that we are prompted to have in the beginning of the year: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 and Matthew 25:31-46.
In Ecclesiastes, we may find comfort knowing that there is a season for everything. It may help us deal with the anxieties of battling the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of the first vaccines available and the alarm over an outbreak of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus. It sounds like “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (3:4).
The reflection about our time continues in the reading of the final judgment in Matthew: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (25:35-36).
“When was that time?” we may ask ourselves in our meditation. As World Day of Prayer, we hope that our services are one of those times that we cared for the other in prayer and action.
As we look forward to the year of 2021, let’s make it a time of trust in this God that is with us always and in all seasons. Let’s be #WDPUnitedInPrayer.
We wish you all a Happy New Year!
- Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director