By Renée K. Gadoua | Contributing writer

Bishop Douglas J. Lucia shared favorite Scripture passages April 6 during an online, interfaith prayer service.

He recited Psalm 123 — one he said he often uses when praying with the sick: “To you I lift up my eyes, to you enthroned in heaven … Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us.”

In the psalm, “We just turn to God for his help,” Bishop Lucia said.

He also recited Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want … Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.”

The prayer service, “Joining Hearts amid the Pandemic,” was sponsored by CNY RISE (Respect Inspiration Service Empathy) Center, established in 2017 by volunteers of Syracuse’s former Turkish Cultural Center. The center’s motto is “We RISE by lifting others.” Participants included representatives of Central New York’s Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions.

Faith leaders prayed for courage, strength, compassion, and healing.

“In a very real way what we can do is simply lift people up, be there for them,” Bishop Lucia said.

He also read the USCCB’s Covid-19: A Prayer of Solidarity. The prayer cites those who have COVID-19, the disease responsible for the global pandemic that has shut down much of the world. The prayer also seeks protection for “families who are facing difficult decisions between food on the table or public safety” and prays “for policies that recognize their plight.”

“My prayer for solidarity is one for courage, that we have the courage to allow this moment to be one we grow

upon,” he said. “I know that so many people are fearful. I pray that in their fear they might receive the solidarity of neighbor, but also the comfort of this prayer.”

Brian Konkol, dean of Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel and an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said the coronavirus pandemic highlights important life lessons: how to find hope, how to lift others up, how to react to unfortunate and unexpected circumstances, how to look inside ourselves instead of blaming others.

“The path ahead is not predictable nor is it comfortable,” he said. “Through prayer we can be confident that we have all that we need to meet this moment.”

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