The World Day of Prayer 2017 host country will be the Philippines and the theme is “Am I Being Unfair to You?”
Mabuhay! Come to the circle and tell your story!
I travelled to the Philippines for the writing process five months after typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, had made landfall in central Philippines. With WDP sisters, Prima Formilleza and Zenaida Maturan, we visited Tacloban. Corazon Reyes, Executive Secretary of the Fellowship of the Least Coin, contacted Josefina Evangelista, United Church of Christ Women’s President, who welcomed us.
We spent the trip listening to the stories of the day that Yolanda/Haiyan hit Tacloban. The sound of the strong winds, the prayers of the children, the ship stuck on the street, the cemetery at the Catholic Church yard for the community’s victims, the hunger, the resilience and the faith. In that context, there are many questions with no easy answers.
That is quite the same feeling when listening to the story Jesus told about the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 20:1-16. While Jesus sees no wrongdoing in giving generously, the workers who felt entitled to receive more, strongly complained. This dialogue was then turned into a question for the 2017 WDP theme – “Am I Being Unfair to You?”
Questions help us to go the root of the situation we find ourselves in. One of the answers for Yolanda is that climate change is increasing the intensity of extreme weather events. Another is that in a context of economic inequality, the communities in situation of poverty are the most vulnerable to face and recover from such events. However, sharing the stories brings healing and empowerment.
As we prepare for worship, women and girls from the Philippines enter carrying symbols, each with a story. Rowena “Apol” Laxamana-Sta.Rosa, after listening to the reflection of the WDP writing groups, tells the story of God’s economic justice in contrast to the economy of the strong and the powerful in her beautiful artwork.
Merlyn, Celia and Editha represent the lives of many Filipino women and girls who are victims of domestic violence or sex trafficking, migrant domestic workers internally or abroad, and women with deep wounds caused by disasters in the environment. How can we hear those stories and not realize how sinful are the structures that consolidate economic inequality? So, we are called to confess and take on our responsibility and answer God’s call for justice.
A traditional cultural practice, known as dagyaw, is introduced. Dagyaw is a communal way of laboring each other’s farms and equally benefiting from the harvest, which is used more frequently among organic farmers for sustainable agriculture. “It is a good practice for building and sustaining a community, an actualization of compassion and care for each other”. Maybe this is the key to a collective answer to “Am I Being Unfair to you?”
We want to thank all who directly and indirectly participated in the preparation of the worship service and resource materials. May we be sent forth with the fruits of our communal harvest by God’s sole generosity!
World Day of Prayer International Committee