This Easter Sunday will never be forgotten.
Many of us won’t be able to gather for worship in our churches and greet each other with “Hallelujah, Christ is Risen! Yes, indeed Christ is Risen!”
Instead, we will be home, either alone or with our close family connected online with our worldwide sisters and brothers declaring Christ’s victory over death.
In this time of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we stay home to save lives. We pray from our own sanctuaries and lift up to God all who feel like they are in the darkness of the tomb. We trust there is light after darkness.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remind us of World Day of Prayer women preparing the worship service for the First Friday of March. The WDP women give their time to prepare the rituals of encounter and prayer that nurture fellowship and hope in the community. For the two Marys though, that first day after the Sabbath started early. They went to prepare the rituals of burying a loved one – Jesus
Their arrival to the tomb was preceded by the dramatic appearance of an angel of the Lord. The angel understood well the reason for their visit and their feelings. “Do not be afraid. He is not here,” said the angel of the Lord. After the encounter, filled now with fear and great joy, the two Marys ran to share the good news with the disciples (Matthew 28:1-9).
This Easter, we may have these mixed feelings of fear and joy. How can we let the news given by the angel nurture ourselves? Perhaps by letting go of our fear, caring for each other, and creating space for the great joy of being united in the same prayer -- Hallelujah, Christ is Risen!
The word of the Risen One remains a promise of life for all of us. Jesus has gone before us, leading us from death to life. Through our most dire situations, let us dare to live with great joy and hope. Then, like the disciples, we will take hold of Jesus’ feet and feel encouraged to see the signs of resurrection around us.
Truly, Christ is Risen! Amen!
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson and Rosangela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
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.
Good day, my dears! Thanks God for being faithful!
For many years we have made plans to overcome the situations or troubles we face in Zimbabwe, but we are fast realising that there are no more plans to make. We are weary of the situations we are facing, we have nowhere to go but to God and to humble ourselves before God in prayer.
Rain has been dolefully inadequate but paradoxically some areas have been flooded out. When engulfed by troubles, we need to remember to rely on our faith in God. When we look at the situations around us, we see why we cannot sort ourselves out, or why we can no longer "make a plan." And we may ask ourselves, what do we want from Jesus? Do we want to be healed? Do we want to accept what Jesus is offering? Pray that we may be obedient to Rise, Take Up Our Mats and Walk.
The month of March is here! We are so excited and expectant to receive the breakthrough that will change the situations of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe will never be the same. We all Rise, Take Up Our Mats and Walk towards the blessings Jesus has for us, blessings of LOVE, PEACE and RECONCILIATION in our homes, communities, countries and the world.
In preparations for the WDP program, we are expanding our ecumenical relationship, serving our communities in need, and organizing the celebrations. We were busy collecting things to donate to the victims of cyclone Idai, we held training sessions on making reusable sanitary pads and bead work with care givers and children with disabilities, and now we are inviting everyone around Zimbabwe and outside of Zimbabwe to come and celebrate with us.
The steering committee meets frequently to pray and plan an intense program for March. There will be WDP worship services in several churches on March 6. Then we are inviting all to come to the World Day of Prayer Zimbabwe Celebration Day on March 26. It will be held at City Sports Center, Harare, from 09h00 to 14h00.
The Celebration Day will have the participation of many organizations such as the Girls Guides, Scripture Union, and the Salvation Army women’s band. Women’s choirs from several churches will form together one huge choir to sing the worship service songs. A Market Fair will showcase the best of Zimbabwean women entrepreneurs’ products in fashion, jewelry, household items, pottery, basketry, crotchet products, wood carvings, and much more.
God has shown us favor to have the whole world praying with us. Everyone is so joyful. We thank you for joining us from wherever you are. We feel the blessing coming towards us.
Together we will sing:
Rise! Take your mat and walk
Walk away from sin
Walk away from injustice
Walk away from violence
Walk away from hatred
Rise with your heart full of love
Let us take our mat for peace
Among ourselves in Christ
We are reconciled
By the WDP Zimbabwe Committee
*Words and music by Sylvia Marowa, WDP Zimbabwe. ©WDPIC.
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
Taiwan was selected as the writer committee for World Day of Prayer (WDP) 2023 during the WDP International Committee Meeting, which was convened on August 20-27, 2017, in Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil. After two preparatory workshops, which will be led by Rev. Rosângela Oliveira, Executive Director of WDPIC, the worship service materials will then be prepared ecumenically, collectively and with grassroots women from 2019 until September 2021.
The first of the proposed workshops, a Strengthening National Committee Workshop, took place from December 4 to 6, 2019 when more than 30 participants gathered at Our Lady of Providence Girls’ High School, New Taipei City, Taiwan.
Local participants included women and young women from the Catholic Church (Taiwan Catholic), Yu-Shan Theological College & Seminary, Women's Prayer Group, the Mustard Seed Mission, the Salvation Army, the Methodist Church (Taiwan), Chang Jung Christian University (CJCU) School of Theology, YMCA of Taiwan, YWCA of Taiwan, Taiwan Lutheran Church, Taiwan Theological College & Seminary, the Garden of Hope Foundation and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (Presbyteries/Districts).
Through various creative activities and dialogue, the three-day workshop aimed to strengthen fellowship, to build relationships, and to “brainstorm” concerning the worship service materials for WDP 2023.
During the opening worship, Rev. Rosângela briefed the participants on the historical roots of the World Day of Prayer and how the seed was planted. In the nineteenth century, Christian women in North America were moved to action when they saw the suffering of women around the world and in their own communities. They were active letter writers, and so they wrote letters and called for united prayer and action in solidarity with women across the globe.
About 100 years later in Taiwan, more than 30 participants from various denominations were challenged to write letters for the preparation of WDP 2023 under the theme "I have heard about your faith" (Ephesians 1:15). Following a Bible Study summarizing the background of the book of Ephesians, led by Rev. Dr. Wu Fu-Ya, former President of Tainan Theological College and Seminary, (Rev. Wu incidentally was the first female ever appointed as a principal of a theological institution in Taiwan!), the participants were asked by Rev. Rosângela to think deeply about their reaction to the theme. "What is it that you have heard about her/his/their witness of faith and love?" In small groups, the participants wrote down their letters according to the structure of Ephesians 1:1, 15-16, and 17-18. Their letters touched various levels and showed their concerns about personal health conditions, the Pearl Family Garden*, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)’s mission, the 2019 Hong Kong protests, and so on.
Through this activity, the participants expanded their vision and identified specific categories: Women and Family, Women and Politics, Women and Health, Women and Environment, Women and Culture, and Women and Leadership. Based on the different categories, the participants began to think deeper about "What are the prayers and actions that women in Taiwan want to voice in 2023?"
During the discussion of Women and Environment, Vavauni Ljaljegean, a Paiwanese Evangelist from Mu-Lin church in Pingtung, Taiwan, told the participants a heartbreaking story. After Typhoon Morakot, a three-day rampage from August 6 to 9 in 2009, the elder Indigenous people who lost their homes and relocated in the plains took their own lives due to difficulties adjusting to an unfamiliar environment.
When it came to Women and Leadership, it was agreed that promoting equal representation of women in decision-making is important; however, the participation of women in leadership roles in Taiwan is still lacking and has a long way to go. Nancy Lin, former WCC Central Committee member (PCT), encouraged the participants to step up, lead and speak up.
For the closing worship of the WDP Taiwan SNC workshop, on the third and final day, the workshop participants used the materials of the Zimbabwe 2020 WDP program under the theme “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk” (John 5:2-9a).
May all the acts and efforts glorify God and let the voices of Taiwan be heard – we now look forward with enthusiasm to the second workshop!
By 陳怡婷 (Rachel Chen, PCT Information Center Staff) and Carys Humphreys, Administrative Assistant to the PCT General Secretary
*Pearl Family Garden’s mission is to bring the gospel to women in prostitution and to mobilize the church for missions in the red-light districts of Taiwan.
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