O Holy Night has been my favorite Christmas carol for as long as I can remember. And yet, it was only this year that I noticed the line “the soul felt its worth.” What a powerful thought! The soul feels its worth when gazing upon the baby Jesus. The soul feels its worth when realizing that God chose to become vulnerable and small so that we could come close to God. The soul feels its worth when recognizing that God will do anything to help us see how profoundly loved we are.
I think it is significant that God chose to come through Mary, who describes herself as lowly. Low in status and importance. In Mary’s famous song and prayer, the Magnificat, she exclaims:
“My soul proclaims your greatness, O God,
Mary felt her worth when being asked to bring God into the world in the form of Jesus. And even more than that, Mary recognized that God choosing a woman from the social margins had significance for all of us. Every single one of us is worthy in the eyes of God. We are not worthy in the eyes of God because of our social status, wealth or power. We are not worthy because of our talents or our wisdom or our achievements. We are worthy simply because we are God’s beloved creation. We are worthy simply because God loves us.
After choosing to come into the world through the “lowly” Mary, God invites the “lowly” shepherds to be the first eyewitnesses of the newborn baby. It’s a striking choice. It wasn’t the religious leaders or the political leaders who received the first invitation. It was the shepherds. The shepherds - who stood on the bottom rung of the social ladder of the time. The shepherds - who were considered second-class citizens - detestable and worthless and untrustworthy.
“When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see this event that God has made known to us.” They hurried and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Once they saw this, they reported what they had been told concerning the child. All who heard about it were astonished at the report given by the shepherds.” Luke 2:15-18 (The Inclusive Bible)
The shepherds felt their worth at being honored with the first invitation to behold the Christ child. They hurried to gaze upon the baby lying in the manger. That gazing upon Jesus was a form of prayer. And that gazing upon Jesus changed them forever. Emmanuel! God is with us! After being profoundly moved by gazing upon the God who came close, the shepherds went and spread the good news to everyone they knew. And all were astonished. Perhaps astonished because God had come in the form of a baby. Or perhaps astonished because they were hearing the news from the “lowly” shepherds.
My prayer for each of us this Christmas is that our gazing upon the nativity scene would be a prayer that changes us forever. That as we gaze, we would see that God longs for us to feel our worth. That as we gaze, we would recognize we are deeply loved by God. And that as we gaze, our souls would feel their worth.
By Katie Reimer, Executive Director, WDPIC
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
My first week as the Executive Director for World Day of Prayer International Committee has been full of excitement, apprehension, new learnings, and discoveries. I am astounded by the richness of this prayer movement. The vibrant history. The powerful guiding principles. The creative liturgy. I have been profoundly moved by the many ways I see the Spirit working within and through the World Day of Prayer.
I have been listening closely during my first week with you. I have been listening to you - to your stories, your dreams, and your fears. I have been listening to our predecessors - to their vision, their wisdom and their legacy. I have been listening to the world - to her cries, her longings, and her openings. And I have been listening to how the Spirit is blowing in our midst. I have been listening closely. And I plan to keep listening.
In the passage from 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul is alluding to the way Moses’ face would shine after speaking with God (Exodus 34:29). It was clear to everyone around Moses that the skin of his face was glowing with the glory of God. As Moses listened to God, he was changed. In the same way, Paul assures us that we, too, will be changed. We will be changed by lingering in God’s presence, by listening to the Spirit. We, too, will be transformed from “glory to glory.”
And so, I am lingering in God’s presence, and I am listening to the Spirit. As I have been listening to you, I have seen in your voices the face of God. I have already found myself transformed as I’ve started to hear some of your deepest yearnings for this already powerful World Day of Prayer movement. Your yearnings are now my yearnings. I smile as I write this, thinking of the journey ahead, when we will move from “glory to glory,” our faces shining from the knowledge of God.
The only thing that is required of us is an openness to the movement of the Spirit. I have been humming a sung prayer that I co-wrote a few years ago with Jorge Lockward. In it, I hear the Spirit’s invitation to me, to you, and to the whole World Day of Prayer movement.
- Katie Reimer,
Incoming WDPIC Executive Director
Here We Are
For years, World Day of Prayer has gathered women, young people, children and communities around the world under its unique appeal of being united in prayer and actions of solidarity for peace and justice. It may be a local group worshipping together or a national wide educational campaign on a particular issue. With the strength rooted in a spirituality of listening, the first Friday of March brings to light this circle of prayer to visibility!
I have had the blessing of serving this international circle of prayer since 2012, when I was welcomed as executive director. I am deeply grateful for the blessings, learning, and growth that this community has given me. Now it is time to continue widening the circle and welcome the new executive director of World Day of Prayer International Committee. I am delighted to have the chance of sharing leadership with Katie Reimer until my term concludes on August 1st.
What has brought Katie Reimer to WDP is her own spiritual practice of “cultivating embodied practices and rituals in community.” For her, “worship and prayer connect us to God most profoundly when we connect deeply to ourselves, our neighbors, and all of creation.” Katie is “deeply moved by WDP’s central commitment to the power of women’s voices and incarnate experiences of God” and recognizes that WDP “has faithfully connected women committed to the way of Jesus across boundaries, creating an expansive ecology that nourishes abundant life. The vision of Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action speaks to the way of Jesus, who prayed from an intimate awareness of the struggles of the world, while also acting from a place of profound connection to the Divine.” (Extracted from Katie’s cover letter)
Katie recently completed her Master of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary in New York with a concentration in Inter-religious Engagement; after a Bachelor and Master education in piano performance. She is the founder, artistic & executive director of Mimesis Ensemble where she performs and records music from the 20th and 21st centuries. She has acted as artist in residence, song composer, life stream meditation guide, devotional video designer, song leader and choir conductor, worship writer and leader, and preacher in churches in New York City and across the United States, also at women and church national and international conferences.
Katie is prepared to listen, lead, and join this community of Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action. Let’s take our tambourines and with dancing and singing praise God like the prophet Myriam and the women, as God is journeying ahead of us (Exodus 15:20). Amen!
Rosangela S. Oliveira,
Outgoing WDPIC Executive Director
During Lent, I often reflect on the words that Jesus said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23: 28).”
I imagine Jesus, catching his breath after being relieved from the weight of the cross by Simon of Cyrene. Jesus was wounded and certainly weakened after all the tortures inflicted on him. Jesus, who in a single breath, said to the ones following him, including a couple of women: “For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (verses 29-31)
Women, do not weep for me, but rather for yourselves!
These words echo the news of the moment: wars covered in the media, injustices ignored by the international press, ecological disasters, terrible cries of distress, or even more deafening the silence from those who no longer have the strength to call out for help or cry… Yes, I like to imagine that when Jesus said those words, he wanted to offer comfort… just as he did in the garden of the tomb, on Sunday morning, when Mary of Magdala went to the tomb to discover that his body was no longer there (John 20:11-18).
Why are you crying?
Mary thought a gardener was speaking to her, but a simple call of her first name "Mary!" was enough to make her open the eyes and discover that the Risen Jesus was standing before her. I like to reread this passage from John, in chapter 20. A great tenderness emanates from the text. Mary is the first woman to discover Jesus is alive. For her, who has known tears, there is a future to hope for -- “I know the plans I have for you”. And for those among us who are sad or overwhelmed, a cry invites us to get back on the road.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Mary's cry of joy replaced her cries of pain and lamentation. I even imagine tears of joy flowing down her face, where a few hours before there were tears of pain. Suffering is not that hard to imagine, it is so prevalent right now. But on this Easter morning, sisters and brothers, believe that Jesus is here, very present and that He will be able to say to us "I have heard about your faith" and while waiting for this beautiful moment, let us shout joyfully with our Christian sisters from Jerusalem "He is risen, He is risen indeed!”
Receive my warmest regards and all my gratitude,
On the first Friday of March 2022, communities across the world will come together to launch the celebration of the World Day of Prayer prepared by the women of England, Wales and Northern Ireland!
The 2022 theme, “I Know the Plans I Have for You”, is an invitation to have faith in God even when we don’t see or imagine hope, because surely God has a plan for each of us, plans filled with hope and promise.
Like 2021, we expect that WDP celebrations will be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as each country, region, town, and village are still dealing with the health crisis. We are grateful for the vaccines available and watch with concern for the communities that still do not have access to them.
This is a time to be reminded of at least two of the WDP Guiding Principles. WDP services are an invitation to receive prayer and to be responsible and creative in organizing it according to the current pandemic context we live in. All of us have something to give and to receive. Through the WDP offering, women share their resources with women and children around the world. Be creative and supportive!
What have we learned over the last two years that can be used for the 2022 WDP celebrations?
Also, remember that on June 16-18, 2022, WDP National Committees will gather for a unique experience: the very first virtual World Day of Prayer International Committee Meeting, for “New Heart, New Mind, Called to Hope!” Be on the lookout for more information.
Together with our England, Wales, Northern Ireland sisters we light the candle and pray:
God, our Mother and our Father,
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
On November 19th 2021, WDPIC, in collaboration with the World Day of Prayer England, Wales and Northern Ireland Committee, hosted a Global Conversation based on the WDP 2022 program and theme, "I Know the Plans I Have For You" (Jeremiah 29:1-14). It was a great opportunity for the writing committee to introduce themselves and their experience developing the program for 2022.
The preparation of the service and related materials began in November 2018. The writing process was long, slow, and quite structured. The program has been thought, talked, and prayed over by about 50 women over a period of more than two years.
The overarching theme of the service is HOPE - very appropriate for this time when the world is coming to terms with the ongoing risks of a pandemic and the looming climate crisis. HOPE is depicted through the lighting of candles, the distribution of seeds and the exchange of message worldwide via social media using #WDPhope. The service also offers us all an opportunity to appreciate more clearly the enormity of God.
All this work will come to fruition on Friday, March 4th 2022 when we gather for prayers and actions around the world.
Watch this conversation below!
The World Day of Prayer International Committee (WDPIC) is currently searching for an accomplished person of strong Christian faith to lead the WDPIC as its Executive Director. Someone who can guide the movement into a new era and support the full cycle of the WDP service program elaboration, capacity building of the women’s network, actions for justice and peace, content creation for website and publications, production of new online initiatives, supervision of social media campaigns, and the management of financial resources.
World Day of Prayer is a global ecumenical movement led by women in their communities. It creates an opportunity for building relationships, a spirituality of listening to each other and to God, a prayer informed by the context of women’s lives, and a prayerful action expressed by sharing resources with communities in need.
Motivated by a common prayer on the first Friday of March, women lead workshops to learn about the focus country and to study attentively the Bible and the worship service. Together they plan the program for children in schools or churches. The interpretation of the annual theme in the local context and the envisioning of responses are creatively crafted and intensively promoted across the globe. The projects and organizations to support are selected carefully. Most of what we do is based on in-person events where building relationships is the first step in a long journey.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted how we work together to bring life to the WDP worship service but learning to be connected even when physically apart is the historical experience of women united in prayers. The predecessors of WDP brought news about women from different contexts and inspired by Jesus’ call to love, made it their cause for prayer. The missionaries traveled internationally by ship and the worship services were distributed by snail mail. The cycle took time to be completed, and gradually it changed as WDP leaders incorporated into the movement the new forms of technological communication they have learned to use. Once again, we are changing the way we come together to fulfill our goal of “Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action.”
Dear sisters and friends of World Day of Prayer,
It's Advent and Christmastime again.
Strangely enough, this year I feel particularly close to the shepherds (Luke 2:8). They kept the flocks of sheep outside the city, in the fields, far from their warm houses and their cozy beds. Their job imposed this distance. I am reminded of the isolation into which our world has been thrown because of the pandemic, and I notice how the places of isolation have reversed. They were alone outside the cities while we are isolated inside our homes.
I imagine the shepherds gathering around a fire to warm themselves by sharing stories and songs. This image comes from the festive evenings around the campfires during my childhood. But today I think of the people who set out to find a safer country than their own. No campfire or warm home awaits them. And I notice how humans, in some places, are no longer able to take care of those who need it most. The shepherds protected the sheep by their presence. Our society is desperately looking for its shepherds, its protectors.
In our context today, I love to hear the words of the angel:
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
Luke's Gospel, chapter 2, verses 10-12, in its two-thousand-year-old wisdom reminds us that we can abandon all our fears. For good news is proclaimed for each of us: the birth of a Savior. And much more (verse 14):
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
I hear in these words that an immense gift is given to us personally: the peace of God. It is up to us to receive the peace of God in our hearts. It is up to us to make it grow in our daily life, so that we can bring peace, justice and love into this world.
I wish that God's peace be in your heart, in your home, in your city, in your country and in the world.
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
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The 2021 Celebration theme "Build on a Strong Foundation" has been with me spiritually since the writing process began in 2018, and especially since COVID-19 entered our lives. In the face of illness, isolation, suffering, and grief, this theme forced me to reflect on what is most important to me.
The parable of the wise builder of the house on the rock helped me cling to Jesus' teaching, to keep hope alive during the storm, and to discover the part of me that, at times, made choices more like the foolish builder. For Jesus’ invitation at the end of the narrative is indeed to listen to his words of life and to act on them.
In addition to the text of Matthew 7, which was the inspiration for the theme, the song composed during the writing workshop particularly touched me. The refrain invites the world: "Let us build up Vanuatu with love and unity. We are family, we are one. We are Ni-Vanuatu."
What a joy to see that the intention set by the first stanza has become a reality for our sisters who did not yet know each other when they arrived to the workshop in April 2018 - "It is time to get together as a nation and family. Let's forget our differences and let us work in unity. From the North down to the South, all the islands we are one. In God we stand, brothers and sisters, we are one."
The joy I felt was even greater while watching the live celebration on March 5th, 2021. I recognized all the sisters present at the same church! For me, it was like an affirmation that they had heard the invitation to work together, and that they put into practice the words of Jesus: "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12). In front of my computer screen, I experienced a moment of grace that I wish for each one of you.
In the following pages of this Journal, you will discover many testimonies. Testimonies from countries or groups who may not have celebrated in person but found solutions to worship in a different way and continue building relationships. The creativity was incredible, and all the modern means of communication were used to hold a moment of prayer. You will also read that other groups were able to celebrate the World Day of Prayer in person, and that there too, the creativity was great, even extraordinary, to respect the sanitary requirements and experience a time of communion.
As the preparations for next year’s celebration, written by the women of WDP England, Wales and Northern Ireland, begins we discover a word of life given by God that we can make our own: "I Know the Plans I Have for You".
I cannot end these few lines without expressing my gratitude for the work of each woman involved. By offering the best of ourselves, wherever we are, we become witnesses of the risen Christ. This is a blessing!
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
In collaboration with the WDP Scottish Committee, WDPIC held a Global Conversation on WDP acting for Climate Justice. Over 60 women from all over the world attended the conversation to learn about climate change, and how we can make a difference as the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is happening in Glasglow (Oct 31- Nov 12).
In Gaelic, Glasgow’s name means “The Dear Green Place”. The city, the largest in Scotland, is thought to have been founded in 550 A.D. by the patron saint of the city, St. Mungo, also known as St. Kentigern, is the host of the COP26.
Mary Welsh started her presentation using the American Museum of Natural History definition of climate change: “Climate change refers to the long-term changes in global temperatures and other characteristics of the atmosphere. Climate has changed throughout Earth’s long history, but this time it is different. Human activity is causing worldwide temperatures to rise higher than at any time we know of in the past”. Starting from the ancient Greeks and Romans to today, she recalled the 2019 UN Nations Climate goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius as the socially, economically, politically and scientifically safe limit to global warming to be reached by the end of this century.” In 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that “Climate Change is widespread, rapid and intensifying.”
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated “Climate change is happening now and to all of us. No country or community is immune. And, as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit.” Margaret Roy introduced Guterres’ concept to point out “the impacts of climate change, which will not be borne equally or fairly, between rich and poor, women and men, and older and younger generations. Consequently, there has been a growing focus on climate justice, which looks at the climate crisis through a human rights lens and on the belief that by working together we can create a better future for present and future generations.” Then, she explained “when COP26 comes to Glasgow, one of the main subjects will be lowering the temperature by looking at our carbon footprint. Governments will be looking at new agreements. Whilst this is important there are other issues for which we need to take responsibility.”
What is our responsibility? What can we do about climate change and climate justice? Then, Denise, a girl from Scotland called us to act as blessed and beloved people of God:
People of the world, your children are calling to you.
World Day of Prayer over the years has listened to the stories of climate change in several countries. We have prayed and supported those affected by natural disasters, forced migration and hunger. During the Global Conversation on WDP acting for Climate Justice, WDP leaders lift up their commitments. For Cornelia Trommer-Klimpke (Germany), we simply need to take the first step, while for Laurence Gangloff (France), we will do it with prayers of hope, and for Bianka Paz (Guatemala) it means to continue the struggle for justice. From changes in lifestyle to advocacy, the participants presented a list of concrete actions for climate justice. Here is a summary of the breakout group conversation registered in the chat.
- Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director