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Seeds of Peace in the Central African Republic

A Prayer Service for Peace


This prayer service can be offered on its own or adapted for use as an opening or closing prayer for another meeting or event.

The Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga and Imam Omour Kobine of Bangui pray together during a tour to spread the word of tolerance and reconciliation.

Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga and Imam Omour Kobine of Bangui pray together during a tour promoting tolerance and reconciliation in Central African Republic. Photo by Sam Phelps for CRS

Materials:

  • Copies of Seeds of Peace in Central African Republic prayer service for leaders
  • Outdoor space (optional)
  • Seeds, gardening shovel, water
  • Place to plant (pot or outdoor area)
  • Small sign on pot or near wherever the seeds are planted that reads, "May peace grow in CAR"
  • Bible opened to Isaiah 2:2–5
  • Lyrics and/or music for "The Prayer of St. Francis," Sebastian Temple (OCP), for each participant

Preparation:

  • Prepare musicians/song leaders
  • Select and prepare one leader and three readers
  • Select and prepare a person to plant the seeds
  • Create a small sign (see above)
  • Identify where to plant the seeds and prepare all planting tools

Opening Prayer

Leader:

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

Risen Christ,

Be with our brothers and sisters who are caught in violent conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR).

During the Easter season, we celebrate the power of your resurrection, which overcomes suffering and death. On the night before you died, you told your disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you... Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (John 14:27).

Send your peace to the people of CAR and to all those in the midst of violence throughout the world. Bring peace to those who live in fear, who mourn the loss of loved ones, and who perpetuate violence in any way. And we pray that you make us instruments of your peace.

In your name we pray,

Amen

Opening Song

"The Prayer of St. Francis," Sebastian Temple (OCP)

Scripture Passage

Reader One:

A reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah.

In days to come,
The mountain of the LORD's house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it.

Many peoples shall come and say:
"Come, let us go up to the LORD's mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths."
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,
and set terms for many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the LORD! (Isaiah 2:2–5)
The Word of the Lord.

Response:

Thanks be to God.

Reflection and Ritual

Leader:

In this Scripture passage, Isaiah describes God's peace that will one day reign on the Earth, when all nations "beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks."

These words from Scripture echo throughout our prayer for CAR, where the violence is preventing farmers from planting their fields. If they are not able to plant, the country will face even greater devastation in the coming months. We ask God to open the hearts of all so that tools of war might be transformed into tools of peace.

We will now plant seeds in [a small pot to sit in a classroom or common space, space in front of parish, school, in part of a community garden, etc.]. As these seeds sprout, they will remind us to keep praying for an end to violence in CAR and for a peaceful planting season. We pray that the new life proclaimed by the resurrected Christ in the Easter season may grow in CAR!

Note: You might adapt this to send participants home with a few seeds to plant on their own.

Invite preselected participant to plant the seeds in your chosen location and put the sign near where seeds are planted.

Prayer Intentions

Reader Two:

We pray that swords do become plowshares and spears become pruning hooks so that seeds of peace will grow in CAR. Our response to each of these prayer intentions will be, "May peace grow in CAR."

That armed groups will give up their weapons and peacefully reintegrate into society, we pray...
   v May peace grow in CAR.

That Muslim and Christian communities will reconcile and live peaceably together, we pray...
   v May peace grow in CAR.

That farmers will have the resources and safe conditions needed in order to plant for this year’s harvest, we pray...
   v May peace grow in CAR.

That those who are suffering will be comforted, especially the victims of violence, those who are displaced from their homes, the hungry, those who have lost family members, and all who continue to live in fear, we pray...
   v May peace grow in CAR.

For all those who are responding to the crisis, especially for the leaders of different faiths who are coordinating peace-building efforts: that they will find safety, security, and strength in God, we pray...
   v May peace grow in CAR.

For the speedy arrival of the UN peacekeeping mission and that political leaders will do all in their power to support peace and reconciliation, we pray...
   v May peace grow in CAR.

For all of us gathered here: that we will not grow indifferent to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in CAR, but that we will continue to remember them in prayer and deed, we pray...
   v May peace grow in CAR.

We offer all these prayers through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

Closing Prayer

Reader Three:

Prince of Peace,

We ask that your spirit touch the peoples of the Central African Republic.
That brother no longer turns against brother.
Nor sister against sister.
May your children learn to live side by side:
   To forgive
   To reconcile
   To build and not tear down.

Lord, who calls all peacemakers blessed,
Empower all peacemakers inside and outside the Central African Republic:
   To stand up for the vulnerable
   To harbor the refugee
   To aid the afflicted
   To comfort the frightened
   To work and advocate for justice
   To say "No more!" to violence.

Lord, who calls his people to beat their swords into plowshares,
Make us all tillers:
   Planting seeds of peace in the Central African Republic
   And in all nations
   Working faithfully for the glorious harvest
   That is your justice.

God of all neighbors
Of all states and every region
Beyond nations, above borders
Come in your peace
Come in your justice
Come in your hope
Come in your love
Come, and do not delay,
Who live and reign forever and ever.

Amen

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