I had planned to celebrate the World Day of Prayer again with my colleagues at work on March 18th. But the French government’s measures to protect the population from the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission decided otherwise.
So, this morning I put away everything I had prepared except for three candles marked "Love-Peace-Reconciliation", as suggested by our Zimbabwean sisters. I decided to light them in my home, as an act of hope.
Though confined for a week in my beautiful house with my family in good health, I do thank God. I thank God for all that is beautiful and good.
Watching the movement of the flames of these candles, I pray for those who are fighting the COVID-19 in hospitals - the sick and the healthcare workers. I pray for those who are facing their illness at home and feeling more confined than ever.
I pray for all those who create gestures of solidarity. I pray for all of us:
Love and blessings to all of you!
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
We are on the Fourth Week of Lent, and John 9 is one of the readings of the Lectionary for the week. This healing story is similar to the one in John 5:1-9a, which is the basis for the worship service written by WDP Zimbabwe for our common day of prayer in 2020.
Our Zimbabwe sisters inspired us to think of healing as transformation. “Jesus empowers us to be made well by doing something for the transformation that God is offering – to rise and take up our mat, whatever that may be for us, and walk.”
Healing is at the center of people’s minds and actions to stop the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID19).
What are some of the things we can do?
Share with us your prayers, poems, songs with words of hope, love, healing and care.
When washing your hands, offer a prayer. The prayer that Jesus taught us can be done in 20 seconds.
For more information, visit the WHO website.
As we get closer to what we have been preparing with enthusiasm and creativity, the voices of the women from Zimbabwe, intertwined with our own, bring alive a message of love, peace and reconciliation.
The WDP women of Zimbabwe invited us to pray with them. Many communities gathered together to deepen their reflection on the theme based on the story of John 5, 1-9a. The three verbs - “Rise, Take and Walk” – indicate action. Jesus used those verbs on two occasions: to a sick man (John 5) and to the paralyzed one carried by four other men (Mark 2). The verbs indicate the change for those in the stories. These verbs are still powerful for us, today!
Our Zimbabwean sisters showed us the way. “Jesus empowers us to be made well by doing something for the transformation that God is offering—to rise and take up our mat, whatever that may be for us, and walk. Jesus empowers us to choose to be healed, to be made whole, perhaps physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. When we are made whole, we are reconciled to God, to ourselves, and to our community. When we are reconciled, we can truly love, and when we truly love, we are able to walk toward peace. So, “Rise! Take your mat and walk.” (Extracted from the Worship Service 2020)
“WDP encourages responsible action that grows out of the worship service” (WDP Guiding Principles, 9, b). What are the actions that the worship service will inspire you to take? In that way, WDP will fulfill its motto “Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action.”
We join you, and especially the people of Zimbabwe, in prayers for the Holy Spirit to be at work in our hearts, so we can feel the push that makes us Rise, Take and Walk!
We wish you a blessed and happy feast!
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson & Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
How does World Day of Prayer tell the story of united prayers led by women around the world? For almost 100 years, women have been inviting the communities to listen to each other and to create common responses to help the ones in need.
The themes that motivate the prayers since 1927 up to 2026 are a testimony of how women commit to putting their hope into action. From the 1927 service entitled “Pray Ye Therefore”, written by Mary Hough, USA, to the 2020 service written by women in Zimbabwe under “Rise! Take your Mat and Walk”, we underscore our way of being active listeners to foster ecumenical solidarity.
The faces of the communities in prayer around the world are displayed on the WDP Timeline poster, released in 2018. They represent the prayers that come from Samoa, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Uruguay, Hungary, Taiwan and Bahamas (from top left to bottom right). Let’s learn the stories behind the faces!
Amazing how the year is almost over! Here we are in the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany season! I am back to reading the nativity stories, and I especially appreciate the angel’s message to Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew. “Do not be afraid” (1,20). “Get up, take… and flee” (2,13).
It is impossible for me not to see a parallel with the theme for 2020 World Day of Prayer prepared by the women of Zimbabwe. The main Bible text for the 2020 program is taken from John 5. Jesus said to the man who had been sick for 38 years: “Rise, take your mat and walk”. This man had no hope. He was lying down next to the pool, knowing he had no chance to be healed by its water. Then Jesus asked him “Do you want to be made well?” He couldn’t answer with a logical “Yes, of course!” Instead, he first explained all the problems he was facing to reach the water. To the Samaritan woman, Jesus would have given the living water (John 4, 10) but to this man, he said “Stand, take… and walk” (John 5,8).
It is impossible for me not to see a parallel with the daily news. From Beirut to Hong Kong, from Paris to Bethlehem, people are standing in the streets to protest. Women and men are wearing black on Thursdays to stand in solidarity with women to say “No” to gender based violence. Children and youth are standing in the streets to shout “Stop pollution - be responsible.” What do all those stories have in common? Increasing poverty, injustice and suffering, and a fear of the future.
But what about the ones who are unable to lift up their voices? We reach out to them, and together we pray like our Zimbabwe sisters invite us to:
“From our corner of the world,
we rise and walk.
We are caretakers of God’s creation.
Help us learn to love one another;
Give us wisdom and grace to be peacemakers"
“Do not be afraid” - let us receive the angel’s message as a gift. May God give us strength to be peacemakers in this troubled world.
We extend our heartfelt thank you for your friendship, commitment, prayers and actions of solidarity. Blessings to you during this holiday season!
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
The WDP Australian National Meeting is held every other year. This is a time when leaders from across the regions of Australia come together, some traveling as far as 3,500 km to attend.
As we meet this year in the beautiful foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, we are reminded of the beautiful but diverse land in which we live. We are often described as a sun burnt country and in many of our local areas, we are experiencing drought and bush fires. But in others, such as our meeting place, the land is lush green and fertile.
It is a time to share ideas, connect with friends, and hear of our ecumenical WDP movement across the nation. The meeting always begins with a thanksgiving and remembrance of those women who have served WDP faithfully. This brings to the forefront the responsibility we have as the current gate keepers to continue the good work that has been done.
We started a conversation imagining the future of WDP in 5 years’ time. This future is one that crosses ecumenical and cultural barriers. Australia is a diverse nation in geography as well as ethnically. Engaging with the modern women in Australia is a challenge, our role in the home and workplace has dramatically changed over the past 20 years. We need to develop new platforms for communication, to engage with the women of today and their communities, to remain relevant.
Investing in the development of our website and social media platforms is a way of promoting, communicating and connecting with women who may not be able to attend a service. Current reports from local regions across Australia highlight how World Day of Prayer is celebrated and the feedback is encouraging. As for the future, we know that we need to be open to new ideas and initiatives. We pray and trust in God!
We have learned many things from our WDP sisters as we celebrate their services. For example, how to care for our environment and be faithful stewards with the resources God has given. Our Zimbabwean sisters have given us a challenge to rise, to not be afraid of the future and take our mat and walk.
Let’s walk together in the same direction. God is offering us the steps for personal and social transformation. How will we live this out in the context of our WDP communities?
- Vicki Marney, WDPIC Regional Representative Pacific
Coming from the land and city where the miracle in John 5 took place, gives me a special responsibility to share my reflection on the Zimbabwe theme “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk” and what prayerful action really means. How will we walk?
The site of the Bethesda pool still exists today as proof of the belief of people who were healed or hoped to be healed when and if the angel stirred the water. The site is part of the buildings where the church of St. Anne, traditionally the home of the Virgin Mary’s parents, stands. To reach the building, you still have to pass through the Sheep Gate, also known as the gate of the twelve tribes and that of St. Stephen, who was stoned in Jerusalem. This is one of the seven gates that lead into the Old City, the Via Dolorosa, the 14 Stations of the Cross and the Noble Sanctuary, the Dome of the Rock, holy to Muslims. After all Jerusalem is where the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam meet.
Since 1967, this gate is guarded by heavily armed Israeli soldiers who allow or deny entry to both local and pilgrims depending on circumstances or the soldiers’ whims. In Jerusalem where crowds of sick people, blind, lame and paralyzed gathered around the pool awaiting to be healed, people today push and shove trying to flock in to visit holy sites and to praise God.
As women followed Jesus on the same path to the cross, mothers, wives, sisters and daughters walk without losing hope. We, the World Day of Prayer Palestine Committee wrote about this in the 1994 service “Go, See and Act” and invited our sisters around the world to walk with us in prayerful action. Like the lame man afflicted for 38 years, the Palestinian people have been waiting for almost a century for an angel to remove the yoke of oppression imposed upon them, and women are still striving for their equal rights.
In answer to the question posed by Jesus: “Do you want to be well again?” We cry out: “Of course! But how can we when there is injustice, oppression, hatred and killing in your land? The land of Jesus has not known the peace he announced nor lived the message of love and equality among brothers and sisters! Please, Jesus, heal us and walk with us so that humanity can be restored.”
When Jesus tells us: “Get up, pick up your sleeping mat and walk around” we respond: "Even if individually we do try to stand up and bring harmony within our own circles, the work of your peacemakers is not yielding fruits. We need the massive efforts of good people who believe in human beings, who do the will of God and are supported by global moral values and international law."
So, I offer this prayer:
With your help, O Lord, shake off the injustice, remove the occupation, liberate us, as you announced in the synagogue in Nazareth, so that we can walk as your children created in your divine image. We feel that under the oppressive system, we are not allowed to carry our sleeping mat, to walk freely and to have a state of our own.
Dear God, who created us in your divine image and gave us our dignity, help us to resist, nonviolently, against all forms of humiliation and dehumanization imposed upon us. Help us to respect others and to follow the commandment of do not kill, morals which have disappeared in the hearts of leaders in your country and the world.
Heal us, O lord, teach us humility and grant us the gift of reconciliation, so that we can all walk together with love.
We, women of the World Day of Prayer have our differences, but we all care for God’s beautiful creation and want to preserve it. Let us learn from each other, and spread love among all, for we women can be more powerful with compassion.
- Nora Carmi, WDPIC Regional Rep. of the Middle East
“I am so thankful because the program gave me the chance to understand that WDP is so much more than a special day of prayer. I will be able to explain to other women all that I have learned, discovered and received. And I will do it using what we learned through the Transformational Leadership training program.”
45 women came from all over Ghana to Accra for a 2-day workshop about women and Transformational Leadership and to deepen their knowledge about World Day of Prayer from the global to local level. Representatives came from the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, African Methodist Episcopal, Anglican, Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches. The workshop was held on October 21st and 22nd at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church, Osu.
The first day focused on leadership, the WDP organization, history and Guiding Principles, and the Thursdays in Black Campaign. On the second day, we took time to answer questions and deepen the conversation. Then we held one more session on Women and Transformational Leadership. We closed the workshop with the 2020 WDP worship service prepared by WDP Zimbabwe and studied the Gospel of John 5:2-9. With songs, dances and prayers we shared a great fellowship. We felt blessed during these two days together!
- Joyce Larko Steiner, WDPIC African Regional Rep & Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
The theme for the 2020 WDP Zimbabwe program speaks directly to the heart and mind of women in Latin America, who still suffer under a ‘machista’ culture. As part of the Brazilian committee, we studied the theme at our Assembly and we felt inspired by the words of Jesus: “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk!”
In the Bible text, John 5:2-9a, we read that Jesus changed the life of a man who was ‘stuck’ and didn’t have much hope in changing his situation. He couldn’t think about the future. He was just surviving day by day, but then Jesus changed the life of this man. Jesus asked him an important question – Do you want to be healed; do you want to change your life? It seems obvious that someone would say yes but sometimes the answer is not so clear to us.
Many women in South America cannot even think about the possibility of having a different life. It seems impossible for them. They feel that, just like the man in the story, they have nobody to help them so they wait and hope for their circumstances to change.
The bible story shows us that for Jesus nothing is impossible. Sometimes women feel paralyzed like the man in the bible story, just seeing obstacles. With faith and Jesus’ guidance we can change negative situations in our life that do not seem to have a solution at first glance.
Jesus encourages women to rise, to take our mat, which symbolizes our excuses, and leave it behind and walk. Jesus empowers us to believe that a different life is possible. Change is possible for those who believe in Jesus and in his words. Jesus enables us to move forward.
On behalf of the WDP of Brazil, Grytsje Couperus participated in a retreat in Caacupe, Paraguay to prepare for the WDP of 2020. Women from the hosting country, including the indigenous Paraguayan, and women from Brazil and Argentina were present. At this annual gathering women study together and prepare for the worship service on the first Friday of March.
One of the participants shared a story about her life. How she had suffered for 20 years married to a drunken womanizer. She felt ashamed for not being able to keep her marriage and guilt for the divorce until she understood Jesus’ liberating words. Jesus’ words “Rise, take your mat and walk,” made her cry and freed her from sadness and frustration. She took her mat, and believed that she was allowed to be happy and to have a different life. Her old life was over, Jesus told her to rise and to move on.
May Jesus’ words continue to liberate women who still suffer in a culture that does not value them.
- Susana Renner, WDPIC Regional Rep. of Latin America
Al final de Julio, estuvimos reunidas como el comité ejecutivo del Comité Internacional de Día Mundial de Oración, en NY. Dedicamos nuestros devocionales a reflexionar desde el tema y pasaje que nos propone Zimbabue “Levántate, toma tu camilla y anda”. Cada palabra trajo motivación y retos a nuestra vida.
Regresé a casa pensando en el pasaje que tiene aún mucho que decirnos personalmente y a nuestro movimiento del DMO, y aun nos anima desde nuestro lema a “Informarse para orar y orar para actuar.”
El título del pasaje y el desarrollo de la historia en el evangelio de Juan 5:2-9 hacen referencia a un lugar, Betesda, que significa, “Casa de Misericordia”. Sin embargo, parecía que no había mucha compasión en ese lugar, hasta que llega Jesús.
Son siempre los encuentros con los demás los que mueven a Jesús a misericordia. Este hombre sin nombre, conocido como el paralitico de Betesda, tiene una historia que mueve a Jesús. Su historia puede ser la de muchas mujeres y personas en el mundo hoy. Una historia que no había sido contada, o que fue ignorada, por una sociedad indiferente a las necesidades de los demás. Una sociedad que margina y aglomera en determinados espacios y lugares a aquellos que se salen de la norma, a los diferentes, los enfermos y despreciables según sus criterios.
El pasaje nos habla de un cuerpo afectado. Él se ve imposibilitado para moverse, lo que significa que depende de otros, y aun pasa por mucho dolor. Pero aquí, no se nos menciona el dolor o sufrimiento físico, como en otros personajes de la biblia que recibieron milagros. Había otra historia que debía ser contada.
Claro que debió haber dolor en su cuerpo, por eso estaba ahí, pero es seguro que el dolor mayor era otro. El dolor de la indiferencia de quienes podrían ayudarle pero estaban pensando en ellos mismos y de los que ni siquiera llegaban ahí. Treinta ocho años es toda una vida siendo testigo en ese estanque del egoísmo y la discriminación, ese es el mayor dolor experimentado por cualquier ser humano que sufre en soledad. Este espacio compartido huele tristeza e impotencia. Ese es otro tipo de parálisis social al que hoy hay que decir con autoridad -- ¡Levántate, muévete de tu conformismo, camina, sal de la indiferencia y haz algo por tu prójimo!
Pero el pasaje nos narra un aspecto para mi sumamente importante, pues a pesar del dolor físico y moral que podría vivirse en estas condiciones este hombre tiene 38 años abrigando la esperanza de ser sano, de estar bien, de que su realidad cambie, de lograr tener una vida digna. ¡La esperanza es lo último que se pierde! decimos en Costa Rica. Ahí está él, fiel, esperando que las aguas sean agitadas para poder sumergirse en ellas y ser sano. Le valió la fe, le valió la espera, porque Jesús el agua viva vendría a visitarlo para que dé su interior corriera el coraje de levantarse, tomar su pasado y caminar hacia su futuro.
Necesitamos llegar al lugar donde están las personas con múltiples necesidades y hacer lo que hizo Jesús. Jesús le prestó atención --miro su posición y supo que llevaba mucho tiempo así (v. 6). Mirar a los otros y conocer sus historias, nos mueve a compasión. Jesús le preguntó: ¿Quieres ser sano? Obvio que quiere ser sano, diríamos. Pero la pregunta abre el dialogo, permite la interacción y muestra el interés real por los demás. Es como darle voz al que no ha sido escuchado. Es disponerse a escuchar sus historias, dejar que salga su dolor, es darles la palabra.
Notamos que cuando habló, no se quejó de cuanto le dolían sus piernas o su cuerpo, sino del dolor mayor que ha experimentado por años que era no tener quien le ayudara, quien pensara en él y le apoyara de alguna manera. Él habló del dolor de no ser prioridad para alguien, y de ser siempre el último en la lista.
¿Queremos ver mujeres y personas levantarse, tomar su camilla y caminar? Entonces vallamos ahí donde están postradas de múltiples formas abrigando una pequeña esperanza. Mirémoslas, mostremos interés real por ellas, escuchemos sus historias. Presentémosles con nuestras acciones a Jesús, el agua Viva, y seguro que veremos milagros. Esa es nuestra Betesda, ese es el lugar para la misericordia.
- Rebeca Cascante Gómez, Coordinadora Regional de Latinoamérica