“We were not content to be victims. We refused to wait for an immediate fiery end or the slow poisoning of our world. We refused to sit idly in terror as the so-called great powers took us past nuclear dusk and brought us recklessly close to nuclear midnight. We rose up. We shared our stories of survival. We said: humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist.”
—Setsuko Thurlow was thirteen years old when an atomic bomb dropped on her hometown of Hiroshima. She is an Order of Canada recipient and received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in 2017.
This year marks the 76th anniversary of the detonation of atomic bombs over Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9), in Japan. The unspeakable destruction these weapons wrought on these cities and the hundreds of thousands of lives that were lost still stand as a reminder of the existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to us all.
Meaningful global action for the abolition of nuclear weapons is taking place. On January 22, 2021, a binding international agreement called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons went into force with the signing and ratification of 55 UN member states. Canada has not signed the treaty, nor has any other member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, which includes several countries with nuclear arsenals.
As followers of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and Lord of Life, let us join our voices and prayers with those working towards a world that is finally free of the tyranny of nuclear weapons.
God of abundant life and peace,
We come before you seeking your strength to help us navigate a world that is deeply divided against itself. Lord, we acknowledge that the world you made—the world that you so love and sent your Son, Jesus, to save—continues to be threatened by our brokenness and capacity to cause unspeakable harm to one another.
On this 76th anniversary of the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, we confess our fearfulness in the face of the continued existence of nuclear weapons. It is like a sword that continues to hang over the heads of everyone in the world, threatening to drop upon us at any moment. It is a threat to all who live now, and to all future generations that would continue to live in the shadow of this horrible specter.
God of Peace, help us to be still and listen to your Word that continuously tells us to “not be afraid,” for it is only through fear itself that such terrible things are permitted to exist. Indeed, help us to profess the truth of your love and the desire of your heart to see all peoples experience abundant life in your name. We pray for the peace-building efforts of our partner organization Project Ploughshares. Help them, and us with them, to be vocal and prophetic advocates of life and opponents of death by calling on our government to stand against the continued existence of nuclear weapons.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, enable us to undo the yoke of fear that maintains weapons of mass destruction and replace it with a yearning for peace and abundant life for all.
We pray all of these things in the name of our Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Amen.
—The Rev. Matthew Lingard is the minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ont., and represents the church on Project Ploughshares’ Management Committee.