Prayers for victims, peace

Published on Thu, Sep 13, 2001 by Jack Kintner

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Prayers for victims, peace

By Jack Kintner

September 11 was a day that indelibly marked lives around the world. A little over 200 people in Blaine chose to close it by attending a community prayer service organized by the Peace Arch Christian Ministerial Association and held at the Senior Center.

The ecumenical service was led by Father Tim Sauer and included Pastors Judy Edwards, Charles Gibson, Dave Riddle, Nan Geer, Ryoichi “Tim” Takeda and Father Pat Murphy. Music was provided by Blaine Christian Fellowship’s worship team of Cory DeMent, Colin Hawkins, Dan Hatton, Theresa Smith, Sandy Jonasson and leader Alaina Peña.

Father Sauer opened the service with a reading from a daily lectionary that began with the words, “It is I, I who comforts you.” After leading the audience in singing “God Bless America,” he said that it was now necessary to say a word “after and beyond” the tragedies of the day.

Sauer introduced Rev. Nan Geer of the Unitarian Church who began her opening prayer by asking everyone to take a deep breath, “perhaps for the first time today.” Becky Frazier read the well known “they shall beat their swords into plowshares” text from Micah 4:1-4 and a ten-minute message was brought by Pastor Charles Gibson of Northwood Alliance Church.
Gibson’s text was John 15:9 –14. He began by asking how we could possibly make sense of such a terrible event, and reminded us that the evil, which lay behind it, could also be present in our own community. “A Muslim family spoke with me today,” he said, “and they are afraid.”

Gibson said that we are not equipped to fight each other, returning evil for evil, but to fight evil itself as a common enemy of all creation, with hope from God as is reported in scripture. “Jesus is the one who came to us and said that there is a different way to live.” He closed by advising the group of over 200 to do three things: to speak lovingly with their children about the permanence of hope, to pray together about it, and to take an overt stand against evil in our community by not allowing anyone, regardless of their nationality or beliefs, to be mistreated.

Clearly the most moving part of the 80-minute service came near the end as Pastor Takeda took his turn, introducing a prayer with a bit of personal history that left many in the audience in tears.

“Today I heard someone say that this is the second Pearl Harbor. I come from the nation of Japan, and that is why I feel I can say this to you. The strength of the United States is not shown or indicated by the numbers of fighters or aircraft carriers you have or in the missiles you have. The strength of this nation is shown in the way you came to Japan when the peace was established. On that day, Sunday September 2nd, 1945, when MacArthur stood with all the other allied leaders and signed that document and declared peace, then the United States came into Japan and executed its policy, not a policy of hatred or of pay back….”

At this point Takeda paused with emotion. Father Sauer joined him at the mike and put his hand reassuringly on Takeda’s shoulder, who continued, “…even though I’m sure many of you and your fathers and mothers felt the same way towards Japan as you may now toward those who did this today. But when the United States came into Japan they extended their hands towards Japan with great love. That’s the strength of the United States.”

Takeda then asked the group to stand and join hands to pray. “Lord, we stand together in your presence with our families and friends together. Grant us your courage, peace, grace, mercy and love.”

Father Pat Murphy of Christ Episcopal Church concluded the service with a blessing, “Lord, be with us now as we depart for our homes, and in all of the days to come.”.

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