We’ve had a year in our diocese of focussing on issues of tax and economic justice, which concluded with a service of repentance, prayer and celebration earlier this week. This has been done in partnership with Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty.
I was asked if I’d share the prayers I wrote as part of the liturgy. I apologise in advance to whoever I pinched the idea from (and others from whom I’ve probably borrowed phrases here and there). I do recollect seeing and using a set of prayers in the past based on Matthew’s beatitudes, and I acknowledge that while I have very much made these – based on Luke’s beatitudes – my own, I’ve borrowed ideas and phrases from others I can no longer identify. Others, in turn are free to use and adapt these.
Christian Aid Week is coming up here (10-16 May), and these may be particularly helpful then.
On the evening we used as a response between each section of prayer, the Taizé chant “Jesus, remember me”. This can of course, also be adapted as “Jesus, remember them”. Other chants or spoken responses are equally suitable.
Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
God of the poor,
you call us to be attentive to the things we would rather not see,
the people we would rather not hear.
The goodness of your creation, the generosity of your provision,
has been obscured, twisted out of shape by human greed and fear.
Creation groans, knowing it is not the kingdom it will be.
The voice of the poor and oppressed comes to your ears,
even when, especially when, it is ignored by ours.
Teach us to seek your kingdom urgently,
that we may share its blessing with those to whom it is promised.
Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
God of the hungry,
in the world economy, and in our own economy,
many brothers and sisters struggle with less food,
worse health, and lower life expectancy.
Your blessings are taken away from the poor
by those who have seized them for themselves.
We give you thanks for the generosity and energy
of all those who staff and provision food banks,
and who work for international development,
yet we pray to you for the grace to fight for a world
in which aid and charity are not needed,
and in which all flourish and are filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
God of the desolate,
our economy grows rich on cheap labour,
we clothe ourselves in cheerful garments
made by the sweat of the poor,
delight in music played on machines
made by those on subsistence labour.
Our lives are full of luxuries
carved out of the tears of the poor.
Help us to work for a world
in which the poor have equal dignity with the rich,
and enjoy a fair share of the fruits of their labour.
Help us to weep today with those who weep,
that we might laugh with them when they rejoice in your kingdom.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude you, revile you,
and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
God of the persecuted and marginalised,
we have cared so much for our peace
that we have supported tyranny in far away places
to keep our homes safe and secure.
We have failed to invest in the education,
rights, and protections of others,
failed to hear the cries of the prisoners,
or the words of the truth-tellers.
Help us to find a fearless voice
that speaks truth to power,
that rebukes the torturer and abuser,
brings the oppressed out of prison,
and takes a place beside the persecuted,
that in standing with them,
we might find ourselves standing beside you.
Silent prayer may follow, and the prayers may conclude with the Lord’s Prayer, a collect or some other prayer.
Jesus our brother,
suffering servant and righteous judge,
so mould our minds in the patterns of justice
and shape our hearts with the contours of love,
that we may secure the rights of the poor and oppressed,
challenge the consciences of the rich and powerful,
and draw the hearts of all humankind
to follow you in the way
which leads to the liberation of the whole creation
and the glorious freedom of all our Father’s children,
in the love and glory of his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.