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World Health Day service

Order of service for morning prayers at the Ecumenical Centre, focusing on health workers and the congregations' role in providing health and healing.

07 April 2006

Focusing on health workers and the congregations' role in providing health and healing
Morning prayers
Ecumenical Centre, Geneva

Friday, 7 April, 2006

"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" (Acts 9:4)
We claim that we are part of one body..
Yet we are insensitive to pain that part of us suffers…
Why do we persecute you?
Why does the church which is your body- reject and abhor you?

"..in your heart you devise injustice,

and your hands mete out violence.." (Psalms 58:2)

O Lord we know who the vulnerable sister and brother is..

Yet we close our eyes.

We know what we know what is good and what needs to be done to prevent the spread of the disease.

Yet we are motionless or slow to act.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be" (Mat.6:21)

O Lord we have all the resources that we need,

Yet we forget what it is for.

Money that stays in the bank…

Medicine that stays on the shelf…

Food that remains out of reach…

Initiatives that stays on paper...

O Lord… O Lord why do you allow this to happen ?

Why do you still tolerate us who call ourselves - your children-

Yet do not care enough to love you and love one another?

Forgive us Lord for our complacency to the suffering that is going on:

Forgive us Lord for our complicity and being part of the oppression and sin that we perpetuate:

Give us the strength in your grace- to transform ourselves and transform people and the society around us.

O Lord we thank you for the journey we have made thus far- how ever modest it may be

All success and honour belongs to you.

Help us learn from our mistakes and to improve and expand our successes

O Lord of the universe

O Lord of the tiny dew drop

We do not comprehend you fully ..

Help us to discern you in the thunder and the whisper

Help us to see you in your angels your prophets and your wounded healers.

God help us to be good strategists in discerning issues that impacts global health ,

Help us to be the salt, the yeast, the ambassadors and the prophets

‘To talk the talk and walk the walk'

But help us also be humble to realise at many a time we are not ‘the prophets- but the bones'

Help us Lord to be listening, learning servants,

To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with you (Micah 6:8)

May God give us singleness of heart and action

May we be inspired, to inspire (based on Jeremiah 32: 39- 41)

May we abide with the love of God- for the happiness and welfare of all creation:

May God give us unity and success in discerning critical issues and guiding the mission of the church:

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

PSALM

My soul, give thanks to the Lord,

all my being, bless God's holy name.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord,

and never forget all God's blessings.

It is God who forgives all your guilt,

who heals every one of your ills,

who redeems your life from the grave,

who crowns you with love and compassion,

who fills your life with good things,

renewing your youth like an eagle's.

The Lord does deeds of justice,

gives judgment to all who are oppressed.

The Lord's ways were made known to Moses;

the Lord's deeds to Israel's children.

The Lord is compassion and love,

slow to anger and rich in mercy.

God does not treat us according to our sins

nor repay us according to our faults.

For as the heavens are high above the earth

so strong is God's love for the God-fearing;

As far as the east is from the west

so far does he remove our sins. From Psalm 103

Reading from Exodus 1: 15- 21

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?"

The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive."

So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Gospel reading from Luke 5:17-26

One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."

Reflection

The reading from Exodus is a very significant example of how Hebrew midwives of Ancient Egypt in 1500 B.C. worked in an ethical manner, in that they did not kill the male children who they were delivering, as instructed by the king. They chose to perform their duties correctly. Their fear of God and adherence to ethical practice added strength to their motivation to carry out their duty in a credible manner. The greatest earthly power - the Pharaoh - could not deter them. But we should also be reminded of the level of personal risk that these health workers took in the line of duty.

The event from the life of Jesus also shows us that the role of the friends of the paralyzed man in ensuring that he gained access to Jesus. Their approach was innovative, brave, direct, coordinated and hard to avoid. Their dedication and commitment to their friend is worthy of emulation. They can be seen as community health workers who are not deterred by the various obstacles that bar access to health care. Workers who had strong faith in Lord Jesus, and were convinced that He could heal their friend and acted decisively to facilitate this healing.

These are positive stories. There are also negative ones that we need to consider carefully. King Hezekiah, King of Judah had to take radical steps to break into pieces and destroy the bronze snake Moses had made for healing of people, hundreds of years earlier. The channel of healing of God had become an idol (called Nehushtan) and people were worshipping it. ( 2 Kings 18: 4 ). The means had become the end.

This indicates an ever-present danger of the channels of the healing grace of God being interpreted as the deity itself.

Health workers have a central role in health care delivery. Christians world wide have had a very active role in their training, support and in many regions, providing the very health infrastructure that they work in, to provide care and support for communities.

Do we as Christians see health care delivery as an integral part of our mission today? Do Christians provide firm spiritual ground for the health needs in society to be addressed holistically? Is there a willingness and enthusiasm to partner and identify with health workers in finding solutions in bringing ‘Health for ALL'?

Let us identify the good and bad stories in health care in our lives today. Let us apply our faith, so that it translates into practical and discernable action that brings healing to our world.

Appropriate hymn, focusing on healing

Intercessions

"Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;

Morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."

(Psalms 5:3)

Lord, thank you for this morning and thank you for listening to us. Help us to be listening people- and to be people of hope and persistence.

"The heavens declare the Glory of God;

The skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

Night after night they display knowledge"

(Psalms 19:1,2)

Thank you Lord for your Creation. Give us the wisdom to see you in every thing that you have formed. We pray for the proper stewardship of humanity for the environment.

Respect for every species:

The willingness to share the resources of the world:

With fellow human beings and fellow creation:

We specially pray for the natural and environmental disasters that are plaguing the world today.

"‘I will restore you to health and heal your wounds', declares the Lord,

‘because you are called an outcast,.'."(Jeremiah 30:21)

Lord we pray today for the excluded, stigmatized, and oppressed people of the world what ever the cause. We see suffering across the world- in all societies. Heal them O Lord. Heal us too O Lord, as being part of the society which bears collective responsibility for the state of affairs in our society and in our churches. Help us to listen and to act and to change ourselves and our surrounds for the better.

"Two are better than one,

Because they have a good return for their work:

If one falls down,

His friend can help him up."

(Ecclesiastes 3:9,10)

Loving Lord, we thank you for friends and the fellowship. Help us to uphold each other today. We also pray for the spirit of love, peace and cooperation - where there is friendship and sharing. Bless our communities to become beacons of harmony.

O Lord we pray especially for those who are suffering from health. Give them your healing touch. Give them hope and liberation. We pray for the care givers and those who support and sustain those who are sick. Give them energy and rest. We remember those who have passed away during the last night. Give them peace and rest in you. We also pray for strength and hope for all those who are bereaved.

O Lord we pray for health workers around the world. Help them to be spiritually rooted, socially relevant, with competence and credibility in the work they do their duties in a way that they reflect Jesus in their lives and work.

Silence

Let us pray the ‘Lords Prayer' in our own languages.

Let us share the sign of peace with each other.

Blessing

Prepared by Dr Manoj Kurian
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