World Day of Prayer is a movement and a process that requires a commitment in time, study, preparation, and personal stretching in order to bring into a local community, in an authentic way, the realities of women in distant places. It is a movement symbolized by an annual day of celebration – the first Friday of March – to which all people are welcome. Through World Day of Prayer, women around the world affirm their faith in Jesus Christ and are encouraged to strive for wisdom to guide the actions in our daily lives.
Christian women of the Philippines put together the service this year, taking as their theme “Am I being unfair to you?”. Jesus’ parable about the landowner who gives equal pay to all his hired workers, no matter the hours they had put in (Matthew 20:1-16) was the main inspiration.
As a practical example of how we might build a community of love, justice and service, we reflected on the traditional cultural practice in the farming communities of the Philippines called ‘Dagyaw’. Dagyaw is a practice of cooperation and collective work. At planting time and harvest time, the neighbours are called to help. In this way, people labour each others’ farms and benefit equally from the harvest. No one is paid, but the harvest is shared among all.
It was Evelyn’s first World Day of Prayer Service. Her friend, Menen, had invited her to come along and arranged a lift to St Mary’s Anglican Church, Rotterdam where the service was held. “Inspirational. Good to see women taking initiative, bringing women’s views into focus.” Evelyn was already looking forward to next year’s service written by Christian women of Surinam, a country with close links to The Netherlands.
“Women for women”, Menen commented as we reflected on the service together. It’s true, most of the people at the service were women, but not all. There were a number of couples in church that morning, and the service was jointly led by Rev. Jennifer Pridmore (the new minister at St Mary’s) and Rev. Derek Lawson (Scots International Church Rotterdam).
Derek is a keen supporter of the annual World Day of Prayer. “It helps to keep us grounded because every year it tells you something about life in a different part of the world. It puts us in touch with reality … a different reality … the bigger reality. Also it brings people together for a low-key, local expression of ecumenism.”
Remaining copies of the service sheet found their way into Chuck’s briefcase. He works for mission to seafarers and would pass them on to Filipino seamen on his rounds later that day.
Continue to pray for:
- the multiple burdens that Filipino women experience
- the ongoing problems and poverty caused by typhoons
- protection for migrant workers, male and female, against exploitation
- those working to help vulnerable women from oppression