World Council of Churches - songs and Prayers for their 70th Anniversary
The WCC's 70th anniversary is a time to give thanks for the achievements, ask for forgiveness for any shortcomings and implore God’s guidance and assistance in any future endeavours. As the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit wrote in a letter to the member churches inviting them to contribute prayers and songs for this anniversary year: “'praying together' has been the source of our inspiration and of all our energy in 'walking together' and in 'working together'.”
Click on the link below to find a collection of such prayers rising from the heart of those who had the privilege of participating – and sometimes even leading – the common Pilgrimage.
Christmas Eve Service
If you cannot make it to a Christmas Eve church service, click on the link below on December 24 at 5:00 PM (CST). You will see (via livestreaming) the Milwaukee Latvian Trinity Church’s Christmas Eve service led by archbishop Lauma Zušēvics.
A Prayer for the victims of the Las Vegas tragedy
Dear Sisters and dear Brothers in Christ,
Gradually the peace of the morning was transformed for all of us as news of the tragedy in Las Vegas became clear. It was not at all clear what we could possibly do in the midst of so much horror and loss. I started to pray. Let us all pray.
Your sister in Christ,
In a place where thousands gathered together to experience something good, horror changed countless lives as one chose to do immeasurable evil and hard. Lord, please, we pray for all who have suffered and continue to suffer. Once again our hearts are torn apart by the pain of so many. We do not understand, Lord, but pray you help us find the faith to continue to affirm life and good in the midst of death and evil. Heavenly Father, comfort all who not only mourn the loss of their loved ones, and all who are still desperately searching for those from whom they have not heard. Hear their prayers, and ours.
Lord Jesus, we pray for all who suffer in this world. Please, Lord, grant peace. Never let our hearts stop hurting for those who cry, or are struggling between life and death. Lord, you taught us to cry with those who are crying and mourn with those who are in grief. Lord, hear our prayers. Only you can transform prayers into strength for those who so suffer and sense your presence, and learn, they are not alone. We are with them and seek to do what we can to be part of the healing this world so needs....please let us not conclude with Amen, for it so often signifies the end of our prayer. Let us continue...
Geneva, 24 October 2016
Respected church leaders, dear sisters and brothers -
Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I write this email to you a week ahead of the Joint Catholic - Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation to take place in Lund and Malmoe (Sweden) on October 31.
Tragedy in Nice, France
LELCA stands united in its grief with all who have so suffered in Nice, as children, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, grandparents, and friends were torn from their hands and hearts. We pray for each who struggles for their lives. The innocent suffer, they had gathered with no weapons. We know that there will be horrible consequences not only for those who are in mourning but for each that has witnessed that which no one should ever see. What can we say to those in Nice who have experienced such terror? At this time, let us acknowledge that we lack for words that would bring any real meaning. Far too often we have witnessed such atrocities, in Dallas, Orlando, and not that long ago in Paris, elsewhere. We have prayed, we must pray again - individually and in our congregations. We must pray God grants them all strength to endure. Let us pray individually and in all of our congregations, that God strengthen all those who have so horribly suffered. Let us pray as well for those that stand with them and lovingly care for one another. Let us give thanks for each that ran to help and still is doing all they can to help. Let us thank God for the countless good people, who offered their shoulders, so that another might cry and cry in their arms. Christ is in their midst. He is there, where we are not. He cries and stands with them, He comforts and consoles – through our prayers as well. May you be gently blessed this day as so much good must be done to counter so much pain.
Yours in Christ
Arch. Lauma Zušēvica
Vandals target St. John's Lutheran church in Aizpute
On June 22, 2016 we received news from Aizputes St. John's pastor Rev. Varis Bitenieks that someone had dragged a mattress up against the doors of the Church, doused it with gasoline, and set it ablaze. The doors of the sanctuary started to burn. This was done after those caring for the Church building had left. The burning mattress was seen by three who were passing by. They called the police and the firefighters arrived. Due to those swift actions, the damage was contained. Latvia's police experts concluded that the mattress was purposefully ignited.
The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad and its Church Council condemns this action and hopes that those responsible will soon be found and brought to justice.
Latvian Ev. Luth. Church Abroad
Thank you very much for your partnership resettling refugees. Our shared history has provided support for people who cannot go home and welcome to over 500,000 refugees. Through LIRS you walk alongside refugees helping them to thrive in welcoming communities in the United States.
Porvoo Church Primates’ Meeting, Edinburgh, Scotland, 20-22 OCTOBER 2015
context of the crisis in the Middle East, Europe is facing one of its greatest
challenges since World War II.
and Presiding Bishops of the Porvoo Communion of Churches met in Edinburgh for
their regular biennial meeting, and reflected with urgency and compassion on current
geo-political and social challenges as well as ways to further strengthen their
relationships and work together towards building a confident and missional Church
in an increasingly secular and pluralistic Europe.
On a daily
basis people risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean sea; people walk long
distances to cross into Europe because they do not have any other choice; also in
parts of Europe, for example, houses have been set alight, so that refugees do
not find a home; and there is a rising anxiety in some parts of Europe that democracy
is being eroded by intimidation towards strangers seeking refuge and security
and Presiding Bishops were unanimous in reiterating that we should not stand
back and remain silent, but must both speak and act, remembering the words of
Jesus; ” For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me
something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matt. 25:35). They
were also unanimous in their concern and prayers for Christians and other minority
groups threatened by extinction in the Middle East.
Porvoo Communion of Churches
Thoughts on commemorating and scattering seeds
A sermon preached at the 2015
Greater Cleveland Baltic Committee June 14th Prayer Service Commemoration
[Jesus] also said, 'The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the graiin is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.
He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.' (Mark 4:26-34)
* * *
Gracious and loving God, remind us this day of your constant presence in our midst. Remind us that you were present to those suffered at the hands of evil; remind us that you are with us today. Embolden us to proclaim the gospel in the face of all that objects and give us the courage to seek justice, to cherish freedom and to live in your love – towards you and towards one another. Amen.
* * *
Imagine for a moment the scatterer of the seeds. Let a picture form in your mind. Perhaps a image of a solitary figure tossing seeds as they walk the land takes shape. Maybe a woman hunched over a row in her garden dropping seeds into the cultivated soil. Or a big machine shooting seeds into the air letting gravity and chance take charge.
To scatter means to “throw in various, random directions without a particular plan or structure.” Random and directionless but with hope. There is a hopefulness to the seed throwers action – a hope that most of the seed will fall into cultivated so that it may lead to something more.
With this idea of scattering in mind, then those who left messages on scraps of paper by the railroad tracks on the night of the deportations could also be considered “seed scatterers”. The word “scattered” was used to describe what someone saw on the evening of June 14th 1941. “Scattered along the railroad tracks were farewell notes writtern by the deported to their families.” Scattered attempts to notify others of what has happened, scattered papers filled with emotion toward loved ones, scattered notes of hope. Pieces of paper thrown in various random directions without a particular plan or structure – but with a purpose. Thrown in the hope that the note will come to reach a family member.
Both the sower and the sufferer scattered the seeds they had in a hope that something fruitful would result.
* * *
Rev. Pauls Barbins
LELCA sends letter to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (LELCA) and it’s congregations across the U.S. are joining in prayer with their African Methodist Episcopal brothers and sisters after June 17’s deadly church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
As a people of faith we are committed to social justice and opposed to gun violence and racism, we grieve the lives lost and destroyed by this horrendous act of violence. The true reality is that we are all impacted by the horror that occurred in your place of worship. LELCA offers our deepest sympathies to your faith community in this difficult time.
Let us remember the words of the prophet Isaiah that offer support: “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
In God’s love we join with all of our Latvian congregations around the world to pray for you during this time of healing.
Rev. Gunars Lazdins
Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad
Rev. Dag Demandt
Director of Information