Remembering the horror and injustice of war, praying for peace

Seventy years ago, the city of Hiroshima, Japan, was obliterated by a single bomb. It was the first time atomic weapons were used in warfare, marking the beginning of the Nuclear Age.

fc_Hiroshima_Prayer_pole_grp_200wBy any civilized standards, the destruction of Hiroshima–and a few days later Nagasaki, Japan, as well–represented one of the moral low-points in human history. After all, by very conservative estimates, more than 125,000 people died from the atomic blasts, most of them civilians, victims of the intentional targeting of cities. Think about that: These targets weren’t military locations, but cities full of men, women and children going about their lives and destroyed in seconds by the most destructive weapons ever invented.

A small group of American Baptists gathered at the American Baptist Mission Center’s Peace Pole on August 6 for a time of remembrance and prayer, reading “The Beatitudes” from the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus provides a guide for living as well as the promise of peace in the midst of our trials and tribulations.

The Rev. Florence Li, ABHMS national coordinator of Asian Ministries, also reminded those gathered that during World War II thousands of men, women and children of Japanese descent were unjustly imprisoned, by executive order, in U.S. internment camps because of wartime hysteria and fear they would serve as spies for the country of their heritage.

ABHMS’ video “A Church Stands With Its People,” tells the story of the innocent individuals who endured the injustice as well as the courageous American Baptists who swam against the tide of popular opinion to serve as the hands and feet of Christ during what was, undoubtedly, a bleak period of American history.

May the lessons from the past teach us love and compassion for all people.

Today, we pray: Grant us Your Peace, Lord.