This has been a tragic week around the world, for numerous reasons, and I invite you to join with me in praying for those who have lost loved ones, as well as for those who are struggling to understand the events which resulted in their deaths.
The tragedies of the week began on Sunday as news filtered out that an Air Ethiopia plane on its way from Addis Ababa to Niarobi with 157 people on board crashed minutes after take off. Everyone on board died in that accident, including 18 Canadians and numerous people who were connected with the United Nations. One of the Canadians was Nigerian born professor Pius Adesanmi who served as the director of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies. In all there were passengers from more than 30 countries around the world on the flight and this week new reports have shown images of grieving loved ones as they waited for news of the accident and then visited the crash site outside Addis Ababa.
On March 14th in Lagos, Nigeria, more than 20 school children died when the school building which had been marked for demolition collapsed on top of them. Search efforts have now been called off and families who were looking forward to a weekend with their children will now be planning their funerals.
Today, in an horrific act of terror 49 Muslim worshippers were killed and 42 more injured as they gathered for Friday prayers in two mosques in Christchurch. The prime minister of New Zealand has called today one of the country’s darkest days. At the beginning of the meeting of the Council of General Synod, our Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz offered prayers at the celebration of the Eucharist as he and those gathered remembered those who were killed in today’s tragic shooting. In his remarks the Primate is urging all Anglicans to reach out with love and compassion to their Muslim neighbours in their time of ‘great grief and great fear’. He is also urging us to attend prayer vigils and to visit local mosques as a sign of solidarity, and he reaffirmed the Anglican Church of Canada’s commitment to challenge all forms of Islamophobia whenever they are encountered. The Primate ended his remarks by asking that we pray for all those whose hearts are filled with hatred for those who are different from us; that they might come to see our common humanity so that we may live together in peace.
Let us pray: “Our Father in heaven, healer of the broken hearted, look in pity and compassion upon all whose joy has been turned to mourning. Comfort them, and draw them closer to each other in their common sorrow. Dwell with them, and be their refuge until the day breaks and the shadows flee away; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” (A Prayer Book for Australia)
“God of all comfort, thank you for those who have cared about others in recent days….for rescue workers at the site of the plane crash, the collapsed school and the two mosques; for doctors, nurses and other medical helpers, and for those who will bury the dead. We pray for support staff and those who have reached out with compassion and practical help to families and victims, and for friends and families who keep vigil with loved ones. Through them we have felt something of your love. We bless you for their skill, compassion and time, and ask you to bless and sustain them in this time of trial. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our teacher and healer. Amen’ (Based on a prayer from A Prayer Book for Australia)