A Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving for the Thai Cave Rescue

Thailand Cave Rescue

Merciful and Mighty God, we rejoice with people all over the world for the rescue of the boys and coach from the cave in Thailand. May your name be glorified for the miracle of their survival, the heroic efforts of their rescuers, and a world in prayer for their deliverance.

We see you at work in the cooperation and compassion of so many. We see you at work in the perseverance and sacrifice of the rescuers. We especially remember the Thai diver, Saman, who lost his life in this valiant effort. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another.

Thank you for the evidence that we live in a world where so many care about strangers in dangerous situations. Thank you for creating us in your image so we may honor and value one another no matter where we are from. Thank you for inspiring us and empowering us to live the fullness of your saving love. Hallelujah! We praise you and honor you in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

A Prayer for the Thai Cave Rescue © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Devotion: Each One Helps the Other (Isaiah 41:6-7)

Workers at the Boliden mining and smelting company in Rönnskär, Sweden. (1935) Photo by C.G. Rosenberg via Wikimedia Commons, adapted.

Workers at the Boliden mining and smelting company in Rönnskär, Sweden. (1935) Photo by C.G. Rosenberg via Wikimedia Commons, adapted.

Isaiah 41:6-7 NRSV
Each one helps the other,
saying to one another, “Take courage!”
The artisan encourages the goldsmith,
and the one who smooths with the hammer
encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved.

This passage from Isaiah is part of a larger passage concerning trusting in the power of false gods rather than the power of the One True Living God. When trouble comes, those who do not pursue God try to handle it themselves. They huddle together to make better and stronger idols- thinking their wit, their skill, their power will turn the tide. How often believers cling to the same course of action. Lord have mercy. (Click here for a prayer on this topic entitled You Save us from Every Foe.)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, noticing this tendency in his own time and place, reminded us

Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial … They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church.

Yet, I couldn’t help being struck (haha pun intended) by the mutual encouragement and teamwork of this passage. Instead of going it alone, they join together. What would it be like to redirect these good gifts from trying to save ourselves into intentional, mutual cooperation with one another and the movement of the Holy Spirit? Isn’t this what it means to be God’s people? – Lisa <><

Each one helps the other
Lending a hand
Recognizing the gifts
Teaming up to create something
Strong and Beautiful and Lasting

“Take Courage!” one cries
All hear and are heartened
“It is Good!” another declares
Spurring on the grueling, brutal labor
It is hard and it is good
It is worthy work

One could not do it
But many can
many gifts, one spirit

And how much more
When many become
One in Spirit
One with Spirit

Holy One
Make us one
One in desiring
One in trusting
One for the Greater Good
One with one another
One with You
One in You
One for You

Each One Helps the Other © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Quotes: Community

Community Dance by Naomi Gerrard

Psalm 133 (NRSV)
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NRSV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual.
The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
-William James

Running throughout our sacred texts, traditions, and experience is the thread of God’s desire for union, inclusivity, non-violence, trust, patience, and healing. – Richard Rohr

I used to want to fix people, but now  just want to be with them. – Bob Goff, Love Does

It is in community that we are tested and purified. It is in community that we learn what forgiveness and healing are all about. It is in community that we learn who our neighbor is. Community is the true school of love. -Henri J. M. Nouwen

Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn’t interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself. – Lillian Daniel

Christianity promises to make men free;
it never promises to make them independent.
– William Ralph Inge

It’s much easier to do church than to be church. – Bishop Peter Storey

We are designed by God to be doubly dependent. First, directly upon God, and second, indirectly upon God through those people God brings into our lives. Our existence is to be one of interconnection, not isolation. – Karen Sloan

John 13:34-35
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Community is mutual vulnerability and openness one to the other. It is liberation for both, indeed, where both are allowed to be themselves, where both are called to grow in greater freedom and openness to others and to the universe.
Jean Vanier, l’Arche website

If you really want to be in healthy relationships, stop “guarding” your heart and start using it. Walk through the mistakes you will inevitably make and learn from them. Find a community of people who are practicing vulnerability. Fill your heart full of the love that makes it come alive, full of grace, full of determination to walk with pain rather than around it, and you will be much better off than any heart that has been merely “guarded.” If you want to learn vulnerability, allow God to really truly love you, exactly where you are, with a love that disintegrates shame. My capacity to love has grown exponentially since I stopped guarding my heart.
– Emily Maynard, I Stopped Guarding My Heart Ten Years Ago

Community means caring: caring for people. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says: “He who loves community destroys community; he who loves the brethren builds community.” A community is not an abstract ideal. We are not striving for perfect community. Community is not an ideal; it is people. It is you and I. In community we are called to love people just as they are with their wounds and their gifts, not as we would want them to be. Community means giving them space, helping them to grow. It means also receiving from them so that we too can grow. It is giving each other freedom; it is giving each other trust; it is confirming but also challenging each other. We give dignity to each other by the way we listen to each other, in a spirit of trust and of dying to oneself so that the other may live, grow and give. -Jean Vanier, From Brokeness to Community

Acts 2:41-47 (NRSV)
A description of community life in the early church

So those who welcomed [Peter’s] message were baptized, and [on the day of Pentecost] about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

For an original hymn text entitled Community, click here

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