This coming August 15th, 2015 will mark 70 years since Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial control as well as Korea’s division into two zones based on the decision of US and Soviet Union officials (with Koreans conspicuously absent). Thus began a cycle of conflict and violence that Korea has yet to escape. Christians in South Korea first learned that Christians still lived in the open North despite severe restrictions on the practice of their faith. South and North Christians met face to face for the first time in 1988, despite it being illegal with participants risking arrest upon return to the South. Since then, South Koreans and Christians of the world helped convince the North to give Christians some breathing room to worship and practice in public, although full freedom to practice is still restricted. Since 1988, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK – South) and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF – North) have co-written prayers for and end to the war, replacing the Armistice Treaty with a Peace Treaty, and an environment more conducive to humane dialogue and cooperation. They encourage their churches to pray this prayer together the Sunday before August 15th each year since 1988. The NCCK would like to ask all churches around the world to join their prayers, their strength, and their support to the push for an end to the “military conflict solution” and an embracing of true reconciliation. Please consider using all or part of this prayer and liturgy in your worship service on August 9th this year. The prayer was written by North and South Koreans, translated by our NCCK Reconciliation Unification Dept. team. The worship liturgy was written by Rev. Catherine Christie (United Church of Canada Ecumenical Worker) and Kurt.
If you agree to do so, you will join Christians in North and South Korea hoping for true peacemaking amidst growing tension between forces of the “West” and forces of “Asia”. Also, the NCCK would like to get a sense at how much others used these materials in worship and in what way. Please send a note to me at this blog or to Catherine at the address listed on the worship liturgy.
Here is the 2015 prayer in its entirety:
Joint Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula
Lord who oversees our history!
This year, we face the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan. On the day when we passed beyond the bitter persecution of the Japanese colonial era, our people sang a song of liberation. The song from our deep hearts flowed down like a stream of tears from everywhere South/North, North/South, Pyongyang/Seoul and Seoul/Pyongyang. Today, the roar of that day echoes through our hearts, however, we have been living with as much hatred as in the Japanese colonial era with our hostile divided state. Oh Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord of Comfort!
It’s been 70 years since we were divided. Although the Jews, who were taken captive to Babylon, returned to their home freely as prophesied; we are living without embracing the hope of Reunification that we had expected would come soon. Now all land routes, railroads and seaways are blocked despite having traveled them more freely under Japanese colonial era. We live in nothing but an unfree situation in which bugs, animals, seeds, and the fruit of trees also are confined in South and North / North and South. Oh Lord, let the liberation of that day live in our hearts again. Let us prepare our song in a chorus of reunification from all over the world.
Lord of Peace!
Like the unchanging sky and land, strong nations surrounding this land have been continually pressuring us, the same as it had ever been, for 70 years. We, sometimes, expected them to come in the role of a mediator of peace, however, militarily and economically they have considered their own advantage first. Recently a military alliance between the US and Japan has been strengthened, and an alliance between China and Russia has stabilized. They fan the flame of crisis by perpetually competing in an arms race by promoting exclusive military cooperation agreements. The way that our people can survive by ourselves is to hold exchanges, to communicate with each other, and to be reconciled, cooperating together; however, we are foolishly reinforcing our dividing wall even more. Oh Lord, change our minds and help us to repent of our sin.
Lord of Mercy!
Waiting for 70 years, we hope the complete peace of the Lord will be manifest in this world. We eagerly wish that our history of conflict and fighting which has been recurring for 70 years will soon be over. Brother and sister shared one same blood; our people, who traditionally wore the white garments, expect to recover our high dignity through beautiful union and peaceful reunification in East Asia and the world. We are dreaming that news of reconciliation will ripple through the East Sea and South Sea all around us, and that the news of peace be a great wind gusting out to Eurasia passing over Mt. Baekdu and to the Pacific Ocean passing over Jeju Island. Oh Lord, please fulfill our hopes without fail.
Lord who makes one!
At This moment when South and North / North and South are praying for reunification with one heart, make us into apostles of peace. Just like Jesus’ disciples, who became messengers of reconciliation after overcoming all fear, let all of us who were called as Christians be able to fulfill the duties of “the ministry of reconciliation”.
We pray in Jesus name, the one who achieved victory over death on the Cross, was resurrected, and gave us eternal life. Amen.
August 15, 2015
National Council of Churches in Korea
Korean Christian Federation Central Committee