Prayers for peace!

Join us in two new prayers, written for Peace Sunday 2020 but which can be used all year round! And why not join us ‘live’ on Sunday 20 September at 6.30pm to watch our special Peace Sunday 2020 online service? You can join us using this link. We’ll also leave it available for catch up for 14 days.

A Peace Prayer from CHIPS

Heavenly Father,

We’re thankful for the peace we have with you through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We think of all those who are affected by conflict overseas. We pray that you would transform the situations which drive these conflicts, such as poverty and inequality.

We pray that you would bring an end to war, with opposing sides reconciled, hearts changed, and a willingness to do the hard work to make peace.

And we pray for an end to persecution of minorities, for people to live peacefully together, no longer forced to flee their homes and become refugees.

We think of the divisions among us that this pandemic has once again highlighted and accentuated.

We pray for your healing.

We pray for our leaders, that you would equip them to take bold decisions that help us to treat each other as equals.

And we pray that communities will find the vision and the will to make real change happen.

As lockdown restrictions lift, we think of all those caught in violent domestic and personal relationships.

We ask you to comfort them and help them find a way out. Help us to build a society in which violence and bullying is no longer tolerated.

And we pray for peace on our streets, for calm in the hearts of those caught up in disputes, and for new positive role models and changemakers to be raised up across our towns and cities.

Speak to each of us about how we can personally fulfil our calling as peacemakers.

Work in our hearts, and to help us challenge our personal prejudices.

Show us how we can make a practical difference in our own lives, our communities and around the world.

Show us how we need to change to become effective peacemakers, and give us the courage to respond.

We ask these things in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our peace.

Amen

A Peace Prayer from the Fellowship of Reconciliation

Loving God,
Thank you for our bountiful world
And for all that dwells on it.
Help us see that there is enough,
And to challenge unjust distribution of resources.

We are truly sorry for times we stray
Into the path of violence and hatred.
For when we make judgements
About whether groups of people deserve compassion or support.
For times we fail to see long-term consequences,
Forgive our apathy, our selfishness, our inaction.

We are often quick to anger and slow to listen,
Hearing what is simple and easy,
Not what is helpful and true.

Help us to hear kindly and respond with integrity.
Lead us into righteous anger and active resistance,
To speak out against injustice,
Help us to love our neighbour,
To see past creed, colour, shape, sexuality or gender.

We pray for people in positions of power,
That they use their influence for the wellbeing of all.
Help them to act with compassion,
And to build bridges between communities.

We hold up to you those working for peace,
Who face violence with courage and love
In places where it is dangerous to do so.

Help us to be more like your son, Jesus Christ,
Who took direct action in the temple;
Who is friend of the poor and said,
“Blessed are the peacemakers”.
We pray this in your name,

Amen!

Peace Sunday, Pandemic and Prayer

What is Peace Sunday and why does it matter?

In a few weeks’ time, on 20 September, we’ll be marking Peace Sunday.

Peace Sunday is the closest Sunday to the UN International Day of Peace, and each year the World Council of Churches calls on local congregations to make it a day of prayer for peace.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus famously calls us to be peacemakers.  At CHIPS we believe it is to be a characteristic of every Christian – none of us is excepted. This Peace Sunday, in the light of the pandemic and the exposure of racial injustice, that call feels more urgent than ever.

Peace is difficult to measure, but the Institute for Economics and Peace estimates that the level of global peacefulness has deteriorated in nine of the last 12 years. It also paints a picture of a world in which many conflicts of the past decade had begun to subside, only to be replaced with a new wave of tension as a result of Coronavirus.[1]

So what are some of the particular themes we’ll be thinking and praying about this Peace Sunday particularly in relation to our work in London?

Lockdown doesn’t make violence go away

A couple of weeks ago, two men were stabbed outside our office in Brixton. We were working with young people outdoors on the estate when it happened. Fortunately, our team members were able to lead those young people to safety and help one of the injured men to get assistance. Tragically, the other 20-year old man died later in hospital.

This was the second stabbing in the area in just a few weeks and it reminds us that the root causes of conflict haven’t magically disappeared just because people have been in lockdown. There’s now a very real risk that violence will escalate again as restrictions lift. So this Peace Sunday we’ll be praying for peace on our streets, for calm in the hearts of those caught up in disputes, and for new positive role models and changemakers to be raised up across our towns and cities.

New challenges from the pandemic

The pandemic has brought its own challenges. The UN describes a recent worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a “shadow pandemic” alongside COVID-19. Our own experience in Brixton backs this up: several people we’re supporting through our Coronavirus response work are caught up in domestic abuse situations.

Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence we’ve heard on the streets suggests that county lines drug gangs have been capitalising on school closures to prey on young people and recruit them into criminal activity. As usual, it is the vulnerable who are most at risk.

These are two examples of how, over just a few months, traditional support structures have become strained in ways we may not have seen before. These new patterns may prove hard to break, so this Peace Sunday we’ll be praying that victims can find a way out.

Poverty and inequality

In Brixton, many households have felt a sharp financial shock from the pandemic and we continue to see ‘new’ families emerging from the shadows and asking for help for the first time. Some have no recourse to public funds; others have fallen through the cracks of an overburdened health and social support system. Whatever the reasons for their current situation, the effects of this crisis will not be short-lived for many.

In addition, we see every day how institutional racism affects young lives: people who are stopped and searched because of their skin colour; others with family members who have died in custody with no conclusion to the investigation.

We know from our experience that poverty and inequality are two of the main root causes of conflict and the events of the past few months have highlighted the brutal extent of both. This Peace Sunday, we’ll be praying that communities across the country will have the vision and the will to make real change happen.

New opportunities for peacemakers

Even amid all this, we see much to be encouraged about as peacemakers.

We believe that diverse and dynamic relationships at all levels across communities are key to a peaceable society. We’ve seen people come together in new and amazing ways in the past five months and had the privilege of working with many people volunteering for the first time and engaging locally in ways they didn’t before. So we’re praying that one of the outcomes of this crisis will be that communities affected by violence can harness this energy and build the constructive and lasting partnerships that are needed to support peacemaking.

Another positive is that we’ve been having more open discussions with young people on subjects which cut to the heart of some of the causes of conflict. These include fear and panic, mental health and – following the murder of George Floyd – institutional racism in the UK. They are themes which some do not ordinarily have the opportunity or courage to have conversations about. Our prayer is that they will permanently become part of the fabric of personal and public discussion.

Ultimately, it’s clear that the pandemic will bring significant changes to how societies operate. Can we take this opportunity to radically transform how we think about and ‘do’ community, and to tackle the underlying issues that lead to conflict, division and violence?  Peace Sunday gives us an opportunity to reflect on these questions.

So we invite you to join us in praying for peace on 20 September. This year has thrown up new challenges to peace, but it also presents new opportunities for those willing to take up Jesus’ call in the Sermon on the Mount. The question is, will we be courageous enough to respond?

Three ways to get involved this Peace Sunday

  • Join the CHIPS Peace Sunday 2020 Online Service

This year, as many churches are continuing to meet virtually, we’re broadcasting an online service at 6.30pm on Sunday 20 September, on the theme of ‘Peace, Pandemic and Racial Injustice.’ You can join us, or watch the service afterwards at a convenient time, by registering here.

  • Make use of Peace Sunday resources in your meetings or personal quiet time

Our colleagues at the Fellowship of Reconciliation have prepared some biblical reflections and worship material which you can register for here. The World Mennonite Council also provides a pack of varied resources which you can download here.

  • Fundraise for peace in our Peace Sunday Virtual Challenge

If you’d like to do something more active, CHIPS has organised a virtual challenge that you can take part in anytime between Saturday 12 and Sunday 27 September. Designed to be fun and accessible to all, you can choose to walk, run or do something less physical to support our peacemaking work around the world. Read more and register here.

[1] http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2020/06/GPI_2020_web.pdf

Join us for Peace Sunday 2020!

We invite you to join us in marking Peace Sunday on 20 September! Peace Sunday is the Sunday closest to the UN International Day of Peace, and every year, more people use this day to think about peace.

CHIPS Peace Sunday online service: Peace, Pandemic and Racial Injustice

In recent years, we’ve provided resources to help people mark Peace Sunday, and we’ve visited congregations to speak too. This year, as many churches are meeting virtually, we’re preparing a special online service instead and we’d love you to join us!

Along with prayers and worship, we have three short sessions with our team on What the Pandemic Means for Peace; A Peacemaker’s Perspective on Racial Injustice; and How to be a Peacemaker in Practice.

Why not join us ‘live’ on Sunday 20 September at 6.30pm to watch the service online? You can join us using this link. We’ll also leave the service available for catch up for 14 days.

Joining our service is free of charge. If you are not currently a CHIPS Peacemaker or part of a CHIPS Church Peace Partner congregation, you’ll have the opportunity to make a small donation to our work if you wish.

CHIPS Virtual Challenge: 11k for peace!

We had planned to organise a sponsored event this year, inviting people to join us to fundraise for peace. Coronavirus means that isn’t possible, so we’re inviting individuals to do an activity ‘virtually’ instead, alone or in small groups. We invite you to join us anytime that suits you between Saturday 12 and Sunday 27 September.

Did you know that the number of knife offences in England and Wales increased by 11% last year, while in recent decades more than 150,000 people have been displaced by conflict where we work in Northern Ghana?

That’s why we work to tackle the root causes of youth violence in South London and live among communities in Ghana, bringing people together across the divides.

This Peace Sunday, we invite you to join us and help us fundraise for peace by taking on a personal challenge themed around the number 11 or 150, and raising £150 (or whatever you can, there’s no pressure!) in solidarity with those affected by conflict here and around the world.

Do it your way!

This really is a challenge for everyone. And of course, we’re planning this to be a fun activity, not a high-pressure fundraiser!

You can choose to run or walk 11km or 11 miles, wherever you fancy – or some of our supporters will be cycling instead! Or if that isn’t your thing, some of our why not be creative and come up with your own challenge?

For example, you could bake 11 cakes (one of our team has decided to bake 150 pastries!)… or ask your friends to join you for a virtual coffee morning or cocktail evening, and invite them to make a donation.

You can take your challenge at your own pace and it in one go or over several days. As restrictions begin to ease, you can do your challenge alone or in a socially-distanced group, in whatever way feels most comfortable. Our only request is that your challenge is in line with current Coronavirus guidance.

So whether it’s your first attempt, or you’re looking to beat a personal best, we invite you to sign up, have some fun and help us raise money for peace!

How to get involved

The next step is to register your interest, so we can send you a fundraising pack with all the information you need. This includes how to set up your personal challenge page that will help everything run smoothly.

How we’ll use the money we raise from our Peace Sunday activities

Like many other charities, this pandemic has had a significant effect on our ability to fundraise through sponsored events this year.

We’re so very thankful for the huge generosity of our supporters through this pandemic, and we have been successful in securing recent grants to continue our crisis response work in Brixton.

However, it is much more difficult to win unrestricted grants that allow us to cover our important core costs, such as office rental and salaries that allow us to keep our doors open, keep our projects running and keep paying our workers.

The money we raise through this Peace Sunday virtual challenge will therefore go towards these core costs, and helping to keep going through the after-effects of this pandemic!

Thank you for joining us to raise awareness of the importance of peacemaking around the world this Peace Sunday. And if you join our challenge, please remember that however you decide to join us and however much money you help us raise, you’ll be doing something incredible to help make our world a more peaceful place!  

Christmas prayer for peace

Father God

As we celebrate the gift and birth of your Son, we pray for peace.

Peace in our own communities and peace across our nation.  Peace across the nations of your world.

We confess again our failure to follow your laws of love: laws of love for you and love for our neighbour.  We acknowledge the violence and division we create as a consequence of our disobedience.  

We pray for all those who lives are marred and devastated by war and conflict.  Equip us Father as we extend them your love and compassion and seek to relieve their suffering.

Renew in us Lord, your call to be peacemakers.  Open our eyes to the places you would have us bring peace.  Equip us to reconcile all people to you and to each other.

In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace,

Amen.

Remembrance Sunday: How will you remember?

Over the last few years, I have found it a challenge to understand quite how I should mark Remembrance Sunday as a Christian.  I’ve grown concerned that we are too close to glorifying war and the military and allowing our acts of remembrance to become nationalistic.

My concern has only increased since joining CHIPS and having the opportunity to reflect more deeply on the call on all of us who follow Jesus to be peacemakers. Any war or violent conflict has devastating consequences.  Even the most realistic of our films or TV programmes will sanitise the horror of the death and destruction they bring.   

I read recently that, of the 70 to 85 million who died in World War Two worldwide, the majority – some 50 to 55 million people – are estimated to have been civilians. As Christians, we believe that every single one of those civilians, along with every soldier who died, was made in the image of God and was of immeasurable value to him.  

That thought crystallises for me one of the reasons why I feel we must do more on Remembrance Sunday than just remember those in our armed forces who have lost their lives in war. 

Confession

For that reason, I believe confession has to be an important theme on Remembrance Sunday.

Speaking on the beatitude ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ in his series ‘Studies in the Sermon of the Mount’, Martin Lloyd Jones once said:

“Why are there wars in the world?  Why is there constant international tension? ……… Why have we had these world wars in this century?  Why is there a threat of further war and all this unhappiness and turmoil and discord amongst men?  According to this beatitude there is only one answer to these questions – sin.  Nothing else; it is just sin.

The explanation of all our troubles is human lust, greed, selfishness, self-centredness; it is the cause of all the trouble and discord, whether between individuals, or between groups within a nation, or between nations themselves.”

The seeds of war and violent conflict are in all of us.  Remembrance Sunday presents us all with an opportunity to look inside our own hearts, to see where our behaviour might breed conflict and to confess our violent actions, words and thoughts.

Inclusion

Secondly, I believe we need to remember all the victims and casualties of war.  As Christians, alongside our remembering all those British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives in two world wars (and other conflicts since), we must include and mourn the millions of civilians who died and those killed or injured while serving in volunteer, non-combat, conscientious objector and alternative roles. Still others were attacked or imprisoned for their refusal to play any part in war – some even dying as a result of their convictions.

And we must remember the soldiers on the ‘other side’. Many of us will have been inspired by the story of Harry Patch who died 10 years ago.   At 111 years old, he was the last surviving soldier of World War 1. His experiences left him unable to speak about the war for most of his life but in his final years he spoke out about the pointlessness of war and became an ambassador for peace and reconciliation.  ‘Irrespective of the uniforms we wore, we were all victims’ he said. 

Reaffirmation

Finally, as Christians, Remembrance Sunday is a perfect moment for us to reaffirm that war is never the way to resolve conflict and that we are called to be peacemakers and pursue peace.

Jesus was a peacemaker.  He knew what it was like to live under a violent, oppressive regime yet he refused to use violence even when his followers expected him to and when people believed their Messiah would lead a violent overthrow of their enemies.    

All four gospels tell the remarkable story of Peter and Malchus. When Jesus was arrested before his trial, Peter responded by pulling out a sword and using it to cut off the ear of one of the Roman servants involved in the arrest. John’s gospel names him as Malchus and tells how Jesus first rebuked Peter for his action, and then reversed it by miraculously healing the wounded servant’s ear (John 18:10-11).

The contrast between the actions of Peter and Jesus is powerful. Rather than respond to violence with violence as Peter had done, Jesus responds with love. His last recorded miracle before his death was healing the wound of his enemy.  And as he says in his rebuke to Peter, he could have called down legions of angels if violence had been the answer.  Instead, he chooses non-violence – fully aware that he will suffer and lose his life as a result. 

Today, as we look around us, we are confronted with an almost overwhelming number of divisions and conflicts in our communities, our country, and across the world. Remembrance Sunday provides us with an opportunity to follow the example of Jesus and reaffirm our personal commitment to being peacemakers and to pray for and pursue peace. 

And we can thank God and look forward to the time when there will be peace on earth as his kingdom is fully established.  Wars will cease, enemies will be reconciled and the machinery of warfare will no longer exist.

Andrew Jackson, Co-Director for Development, CHIPS

However you are marking this Remembrance Sunday, we would love you to join us at CHIPS in praying for peace! For prayer ideas and other content, download our resource pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembrance Sunday: resources for churches

Several local church leaders have told us that they find Remembrance Sunday a challenging date to mark on the church calendar.

  • How should we approach it as peacemakers?
  • Can we make it more inclusive?
  • How do we ensure the takeaway message is one of peace?

At CHIPS, we don’t have all the answers. But, in response to these questions, we have developed some simple resources for churches this year, which you can download here:                    CHIPS Remembrance Sunday resources 2019

The content is designed to be flexible, and includes some suggested Bible verses, themed remarks and a new CHIPS Prayer of Remembrance which can be used around the two minutes’ silence or any point during a service.

Whether you choose to use or adapt it, or simply incorporate some of the themes, we hope that you will find it helpful and invite you to pray with us for peace this Remembrance Sunday.

 

Word of Peace

What does the word peace mean to you? In English there is only one word for peace, which most people think of as the absence of conflict and the end of war – somewhere calm and tranquil, resulting in restful contentment. This kind of peace is dependent on outside circumstance, and can be shattered at any moment.  The Greek word for this kind of peace, “hesuchia,” only occurs once in the New Testament (1 Timothy 2:2).

Can this be the kind of peace that peacemakers talk about?  CHIPS projects are always found in places of tension – on the borders, even in no man’s land, or wherever the need for peacemakers is greatest. How is it possible for team members to live and work in such places?  The clue may lie partly in Ephesians 2:14 where we read that “Jesus himself is our Peace” and came to make peace (Ephesians 2 14-18). In John 14:27, we read that Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, MY peace I give you, (but) not as the world gives it.”

 So what is Jesus’ peace, that we are also told is “beyond our understanding”? The word used most commonly for peace in the New Testament is “eirene”. This kind of peace is not passively dependent on outward circumstances, but is a dynamic force. It fills the heart and mind of the peacemaker, at peace with God, enabling them to stand firm and bring positive action to the situation – order out of chaos, and harmony out of discord. It assumes a continuous, evolving process of peacemaking.

It is the kind of peace that enabled Jesus to sleep through a terrible storm on the Sea of Galilee, and then to be woken, to stand up and subdue the waves “to a great calm”. It is the peace that enabled Jesus to suffer an unjust trial, torture and crucifixion and still cry, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke23:34).

It was that inner, active peace of Christ that enabled the disciples, and those that have followed him down the ages, to preach the gospel to all nations in the face of severe opposition. And this is what inspires Paul, Desmond, and our other team members to go into places of tension and demonstrate peace in the midst of it, and make the possibility of creating harmony a practical reality.

Elfrida Calvocoressi, Chair of Trustees

Peace Sunday 2019: a challenge to the church

For 2019, we have an expanded programme of speaking engagements and a new resource pack that we’ve made available to our team and some of our frontline supporters to help them talk about the principles of peacemaking and the work that we do at CHIPS. Please pray for them as they help to spread the message in churches from Kennington to Coventry!

This year, we’ve chosen as our theme ‘Living in the heart of conflict’ – one of CHIPS’s foundational principles. In our resource pack sermon, we highlight how Jesus Himself “became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood” (John 1:14 Message version), coming to make peace in the heart of conflict. We consider how it is possible for a peacemaker to follow his example today, and to remain in a place of tension ‘in peace’. Elfrida Calvocoressi, our Chair of Trustees, explores this question in more detail in our latest Word of Peace.

We also raise three questions for individuals and their local churches to reflect on:

  • Are there divisions or conflicts around me – whether at personal or community level – where God might be calling me to be a peacemaker?
  • Am I prepared to play an active role even when it is uncomfortable and commit myself for the long-haul?
  • As local churches, how can we be peacemakers and how can we support the peacemaking work of others, such as CHIPS?

You can download our Peace Sunday resource pack here

International Day of Peace

Nearly a quarter of people in the world are affected by fragility, conflict and violence, and conflict is the cause of 80% of humanitarian need. 

21st September is recognised globally as the International Day of Peace, when people across the world join together to promote reconciliation. As people of God, we know it’s vital that any work for peace is underpinned by prayer.

So will you join us in prayer on that special day?

  • We’ve produced a CHIPS prayer card for you to use and share. Please encourage friends and family to pray too – you can order printed prayer cards to pass on by calling us on 020 7078 7439 or emailing info@chipspeace.org.

Click on the image to download the pdf or click here for an image (jpg) version.

  • Could you also encourage your place of worship to incorporate the CHIPS prayer into their service on 23rd September, which is Peace Sunday, so your congregation can join in praying for peace too?

  • Over the five days from the International Day of Peace, we will be posting a series of prayers for peace on social media and our website. Please join us in those prayers if you are on social media or follow our website blog.   

  • Finally, if you’re on social media, please tell us your plans for the International Day of Peace: let us know why peace is your passion and share your own prayers. Please remember to tag us and use the hashtag #PeaceDayPrayers.  

We’re so grateful to you for your support, both in prayer and donations. Prayer is a vital cornerstone of peacemaking  – and every day we see answers to prayer in the work we do to heal divisions in communities. In Brixton where we are seeing the lives of you people affected by violence changing through our relationship building work in schools and on the streets and in Ghana where former enemies from opposing tribes are now fast becoming friends.

Thank you again for all your support and interest in CHIPS and our work. We believe that together we can make a difference to reducing the levels of conflict and violence, wherever we are. 
Yours sincerely,


Paul Maxwell-Rose                        
Co-Director (Programmes)            

Andrew Jackson
Co-Director (Development)

Celebrating Peace

by Paul Maxwell-Rose

Would your church hold a Peace Service on Sunday 23rd September?

With violence escalating in our communities and wars raging across the world, more than ever we need Christians to champion peacemaking and encourage others to make peace too.

So, to mark the International Day of Peace (21st September), would your church hold a Peace Service on Sunday, 23rd September? We’ll provide you with a free resource to use which includes sermon notes, prayers, readings and videos.

Please can you discuss it with your church leader now to get the date in the church calendar, as these often get booked up well in advance?

And please let us know if you plan to hold a service so we can send the resource to you when it’s ready – email office@chipspeace.org or call us on 020 7078 7439.

Let us together make 23rd September the day when we and our churches around the country commit to praying and working for peace in our communities and across the world.