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Silence and Beauty — Prayers for the Suffering Church

This vesper service from the 2017 Calvin Symposium on Christian Worship focuses on prayers for the suffering church.

The service includes testimonials, music, and artwork evoked by poignant experiences of faith in Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, Japan, and the United States.

Prayers for the Suffering Church

Call to Worship                                                                     2 Corinthians 1:2–3, 5a, 7b

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation.

Just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us,
so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.

We know that as you share in our sufferings,
so also you share in our consolation.



Prayers (led by Mako Fujimura)

Visual Testimony

Charis-Kairos (The Tears of Christ) is the first of five large-scale images that
illuminate The Four Holy Gospels [Crossway, 2011]. I painted the five images
using water-based Nihonga materials. Nihonga is a Japanese style painting,
literally “Japan-painting,“ that is made in accordance with traditional Japanese
artistic convention, techniques, and materials. For Charis-Kairos I decided to
start with a dark background, then illumine the darkness with prismatic colors.
My focus is on the tears of Christ (John 11)—tears shed for the atrocities of
the past century and for our present darkness.

Refrain: Salaam/Peace


Prayers (led by Lily Constantine Kakish)

Scripture: John 15:20

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they
persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.


February 24, 2000, is a historic date, because Pope Paul II was the first
head of the Roman Catholic Church to visit Cairo. He was given the warmest
welcome from President Mubarak and his cabinet. Also, 20,000 people from
different denominations and religions welcomed him with flags and banners
of welcome. I was in my home in Boston, where I was living at the time, and
watching this event on TV with my pastor, relatives and friends. To my shock,
I saw and heard that all the people in Cairo were singing my setting of
the Lord’s Prayer. I was humbled and began to weep heavily, and proceeded to
mark this time—the date and the hour— when I witnessed this. I was so
overcome with emotion that I again began to compose a song using words
of Jesus Christ.

I was not a great composer, and didn’t study music. I was a simple teenage girl,
without any qualifications in the structure of music composition. I sat at
a piano in the evening and through the cold night, and I was able to come up
with this tune for the Lord’s Prayer. The tune was flowing from my heart which
is full of God’s love.

That moment in 2000 reminded me of the young boy who gave five loaves of
bread and two fish to Jesus, which was all that he had. Yet they were used
to feed five thousand men, and this doesn’t include women and children.
In 1 Corinthians 1:19–20, 26–29, God speaks through the apostle Paul:
For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; and the intelligence
of the intelligent I will frustrate” [Isaiah 29:14]. Where are the wise?
Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? . . .
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many
of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential, not many were
of noble birth. But God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised
things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one
may boast before him. [TNIV]

Yes, before ability God requires readiness of heart. Yes, come, my friend,
meditate. Do not say what you are, but here you are.

Scripture: Romans 8:16–18

It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact,
we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the
sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to
be revealed to us.

Refrain: Salaam/Peace


Prayers (led by Gabriel Salguero)

Jeremiah 8:20                                              Jeremías 8:20
The harvest is past,                                      Pasó la cosecha, se acabó el verano,
the summer has ended,
and we are not saved.                                   y nosotros no hemos sido salvados.

Jeremiah 9:1                                                Jeremías 9:1
Oh, that my head were a spring of water       ¡Ojalá mi cabeza fuera un manantial,
and my eyes a fountain of tears!                   y mis ojos una fuente de lágrimas,
I would weep day and night                           para llorar de día y de noche
for the slain of my people.                             por los muertos de mi pueblo!

Refrain: Salaam/Peace


Prayers (led by Eric Sarwar)

Psalm 20


Dukhan de vele teri Yahova sunay dua
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress.

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion.
May he remember all your offerings,
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices.
May he grant you your heart’s desire,
and fulfill all your plans.
May we shout for joy over your victory,
and in the name of our God set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.


Dukhan de vele teri Yahova sunay dua
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress.

Refrain: Salaam/Peace


Prayers (led by Anne Zaki)

Abana alathi fi ssama/Abana in Heaven


Leaders: Makoto Fujimura, Lily Constantine Kakish, Joel Navarro, Gabriel Salguero, Eric Sarwar, Cassandra Vander Well,
and Anne Zaki
Projected art: Makoto Fujimura “Charis-Kairos (The Tears of Christ), 2010, Mineral Pigments and Gold on Belgian Linen, 80x64.”
From The Four Holy Gospels (Crossway Publishing, 2011).

“Silence, Beauty, and the Shape of Christian Discipleship”
“Salaam/Peace” may be found in Lift Up Your Hearts, #298.
“Abana alathi fi ssama/Abana in Heaven” may be found in Lift Up Your Hearts, #911.
More resources on “Abana in Heaven” available at