Scriptures and Prayers shared among Interfaith Dialogue Partners and Friends in a Time of Trial
The National Council of Churches is blessed to have friends and colleagues from many religious traditions. These friendships are part of our lives at all levels of the organization, from denominational and congregational leadership to faculty and community partnerships. Among these relationships, the NCC is grateful to have the friendship of interfaith dialogue partners. The NCC has national dialogues with the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities. In these dialogues, we learn about each other’s faiths, discuss issues that affect our communities, and strive to build the kinds of relationships where we can talk with, and even on behalf of, each other in moments of crisis or distress.
Today, as the entire country, and indeed the entire world, faces the coronavirus pandemic, we draw upon our shared convictions to help sustain each other, and our neighbors. We do so as friends in dialogue who, though we cannot meet in person during these days, still meet heart-to-heart, and in our thoughts and prayers. We may be standing alone, but we are nonetheless standing together.
And so, as dialogue partners whose relationships transcend the physical distancing necessary to lessen the devastation wrought by this disease, we offer these scriptures and prayers from each of our traditions, for one another, and for the world. We do so, not as the interfaith community writ large, not in place of the many interfaith coalitions that beautifully bring multiple voices together, but as friends from different communities who are one in spirit, one in mind, and one in heart. May all be blessed by these scriptures and prayers, and with the divine protection and healing that they convey.
Co-convening organizations of these dialogues:
National Council of Churches USA; Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple; Vedanta Society of Southern California; National Council of Synagogues; United States Council of Muslim Organizations; Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations; The Guibord Center – Religion Inside Out
From the Buddhist Tradition
The Buddha said “if there be countless hundreds of thousands of living beings experiencing all manner of suffering, who hear of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and call his name with single-minded effort, then Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva will instantly observe the sound of their cries, and they will all be liberated.” (from Lotus Sutra’s Universal Gate Chapter on Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva)
Oh great, compassionate Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva!
This is the moment when unity is most crucial,
Let us trust in the government to resolve the crisis,
Let us thank the medical professionals for treating the disease.
No matter how difficult the situation,
As long as there is compassion and wisdom,
When we all practice the Three Acts of Goodness:
Do good deeds, speak good words, and think good thoughts,
If we all protect the environment and have respect for all lives,
We shall be able to turn peril into safety.
(Ven. Master Hsing Yun, Founder of Fo Guang Shan)
From the Hindu Tradition
The knowing Self is not born, It does not die. It has not sprung from anything; nothing has sprung from It. Birthless, eternal, everlasting, and ancient, It is not killed when the body is killed. (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.18)
Therefore, at all times, constantly remember Me and fight. With your mind and understanding absorbed in Me, you will surely come to Me. (Bhagavad Gita, 8.7)
Sweet blow the winds, and the very oceans give forth blessedness. May the herbs and plants bring us health and happiness. Sweet unto us be the nights and dawns. May every particle of Mother Earth be charged with blessing, and may the heavens shower us with benediction. Sweet unto us be the noble forest trees. Sweet unto us be the radiant sun. Sweet unto us be all living creation. Om peace, peace, peace. (Rig Veda 1.90.6–8)
From the Jewish Tradition
Heal me, O LORD, and let me be healed…For You are my glory. (Jeremiah 17:14)
Avinu Malkeinu, Dear God in Heaven, protect our families, our friends and our neighbors as we negotiate these troubled seas in which we find ourselves afloat. Ever mindful of the fact that we are all Your creatures, we turn to You for guidance and for strength as we pray that the public officials charged with bringing us through this crisis be granted wisdom, intelligence, and insight born of compassion and charity. And we pray too that the physicians, nurses, and hospital employees who are on the front lines be spared all distress and disease as they care for the stricken, for the elderly and for the infirm. We pray as well for all whose work puts them in the front lines of contact with a dangerous and contagious virus: our police, fire and emergency personnel and our National Guard, employees of pharmacies and grocery stores and those who deliver needed supplies so others can stay at home, bus drivers, postal workers and so many others who selflessly serve and provide for the needs of the community. Most of all, we pray that You look with kindness and generosity on us all, and particularly on those already infected for whose recovery we this day ardently pray, as is written in Your holy Torah, “For I, the Almighty, am the source of Your healing.” Amen, may such be Your will! (Rabbi Martin Cohen)
From the Muslim Tradition
And, most surely, We shall test all of you believers with something of fear and with hunger and with loss of wealth and life and crops. So give glad tidings of everlasting delight in Paradise to those who are enduringly patient – those who when an affliction strikes them, say: Indeed, to God do we belong, and, indeed, to Him are we returning. Upon such as these descend prayers of blessing from their Lord, and His mercy. And it is these who are the rightly guided. (The Quran, Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:155-57)
O Allah! Indeed, unbearable ailment has touched us,
and You are the most merciful of the merciful. (Prayer of Job)
O Allah! We seek refuge in the Light of Your Countenance, by which all darkness is illuminated and the affairs of this world and the next are set aright.
In Your Name We seek refuge in You, and in Your might from the harm of which we suffer and fear. Remove this affliction, Lord of all people. Heal us, for You are the Healer. There is no healing but Your healing, for it is a healing that leaves no trace of ailment. We ask You, O Allah, the Magnificent Lord of the Magnificent Throne, let there be no harm in this but only purification.
O Allah! Recompense the bereaved in their calamity. Forgive the dead. Let their loss be succeeded by a good outcome. Raise their ranks among the rightly guided. Send patience upon the bereaved and inspire them to seek Your reward.
O Allah! We seek refuge in You from insufficiency, from poverty, from hunger, from being whelmed by debt, from ruin, from downfall, from humiliation, and from this contagion and dying from it. And we ask that You make the poor beloved to us.
O Allah! Establish for us in our land its own blessings, its own beauty, and its own serenity. O Allah! Bestow upon our aged the bounteousness of Your provision, and do not give authority over us to any who will not have mercy on us.
From the Sikh Tradition
The world is in flames, shower it with your mercy
Save it by any means that can save it
The everlasting Guru has provided relief through the everlasting Word
O Nanak! There is none else so merciful and benevolent.
(Siri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 853)
The One Universal Creator of all, our Divine Mother and Father
In Your blessings we find true and lasting comfort and peace
Grant healing and solace to the suffering world
Grant us strength to bear the loss of loved ones and to live in Your Will
Grant us resilience in the face of the unfolding tragedy, and the courage to face it with dignity
May we all unite and share one another’s pain and tears, and help everyone
May the threat unfolding in the world melt away in Your boundless and everlasting love
And living in Your Will, may all find peace, harmony, serenity and Charhdi Kala (uplifting spirit).
From the Christian Tradition
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my honor, and comfort me once again. (Psalm 71:17-21, NRSV)
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)