A prayer for members of Parliament
By Monica Scheifele
At the end of August, staff from Mennonite Central Committee’s advocacy offices in Ottawa, Washington and at the UN gathered in New York for our annual face-to-face meeting. We began our time together with a devotional on Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well and their conversation about “living water.” We were reminded that, as a Samaritan, the woman represented “the other” for Jews like Jesus – and yet Jesus reached out to her, honouring her dignity and her agency.
Two weeks later, Canada’s members of Parliament returned to Ottawa to resume the first session of the 42nd Parliament after the summer recess. In the coming weeks and months, our Ottawa Office we will be monitoring a number of government initiatives including: a possible peacekeeping mission in Africa, the inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women, the government’s ongoing response to the Syrian refugee crisis, and next steps following consultations and reviews around international humanitarian assistance and defence.
In our work in advocacy, it is often all too easy to see politicians as “other.” We sometimes forget that they are people too, struggling with difficult decisions and challenges. Sometimes we only see them as the government or part of a particular political party and not as individuals like ourselves seeking to make a difference in the world. Occasionally we may even see parliamentarians and civil servants as part of the problem we are seeking to solve or the challenge we are trying to overcome, rather than contributors to possible solutions.
As we monitor the work of Parliament and intervene where appropriate, we will be praying for those “others” — that we may hear each other, understand each other, and find God’s light in one another.
We thank you for the gift of living water and the love, hope, peace, courage, trust, patience, community, and so much more that it provides. As we receive this gift may we also find ways to be “living water” for others. May we offer hope, understanding, strength, compassion, love, and light to those we meet and interact with each day as we seek to make this world a better place.
We pray for parliamentarians who face long days filled with meetings, debates and events, while away from their families for weeks at a time. Grant them strength and wisdom to make difficult decisions around complex issues. May they have the patience to hear the voices of all those concerned. May we see them as individual people seeking to serve the people of Canada and not just members of a particular party or system.
We pray for government officials and civil servants that they may receive wisdom as they advise members of Parliament, understanding as they work to implement government decisions and policies, and patience as they strive to work within systems that do not always value people.
We pray for all the support staff working in the high pressure environment of Parliament Hill that they too may find strength, wisdom and patience as they assist with the work of government.
May God’s light shine through each of us, casting away the shadows so that we may truly be revealed to each other.
Monica Scheifele, program assistant for the MCC Ottawa Office.
Feel free to adapt and use this prayer in situations praying for governments of nations. You may give credit to MCC Ottawa Office and Monica Scheifele.