Written on: August 4, 2020
During his visit to Nagasaki and Hiroshima last November, Pope Francis made an impassioned appeal for the total elimination of nuclear arms,
“In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven.”
This week we mark 75 years since the United States conducted nuclear attacks against the cities of Hiroshima (8/6) and Nagasaki (8/9) devastating their populations and destroying their infrastructure. Following their use in Japan, the production and testing of nuclear weapons in the United States and internationally continues to harm the health, environment, and cultures of communities around the world.
In this time of pandemic, people have come to realize more fully the deep interconnections and mutual dependence of life on Earth. Many are beginning to rethink national security and question national priorities. While it is fitting to mourn the lives lost to COVID-19, this anniversary also invites people around the world to stand with the hibakusha, the survivors of the bombings in Japan, and other communities harmed by nuclear weapons.
LCWR has joined #stillhere, a coalition of organizations who share a common goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and standing with the hibakusha.
At 8:15 in the morning on August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped from a USA B-29 bomber on Hiroshima, Japan. More than one hundred seventy thousand people died instantly or within hours. Few were soldiers.
At 12:02 p.m. on August 9, 1945, the second bomb was dropped from a USA B-29 bomber on Nagasaki, Japan. Between 39,000 and 80,000 people died instantly or within hours and months. Most were civilians.
We bring this tragedy before God and express both lament and longing, a longing for peace.
Leader: Let us join in prayer on this day of remembrance for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to recall the past, to be challenged in the present, and to seek hope for the future.
All: O God of power, gracious in love, you gave humankind responsibility to care for all the earth. But often we put our faith in military power even though you call us to build a community of trust and love.
Leader: By both our actions and inactions, by our participation in the systems of society, we often become agents of violence and destruction.
All: O God of all, transform the death and despair in the symbol Hiroshima and Nagasaki into one of hope and resolve that nuclear weapons must never again be used to kill and destroy.
Leader: Let Hiroshima and Nagasaki be beacons leading us to find ways to live together in peace. May we not be just peace lovers, but peacemakers.
All: O God of infinite possibilities, transform our hearts and minds. Give us courage to use our skills and technology to transform weapons that destroy into gifts that cherish all of life.
Leader: Isaiah said: “It shall come to pass that the peoples shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
All: O God, finally after 75 years, make your vision our vision so that “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” O God, forgive, transform, and bring your peace. Amen.
Adapted from a prayer written by Susan Adams, a missionary in Japan for 13 years. Source: Wider Church Ministries, UCC, Cleveland.