On Wednesday mornings the first email I usually receive is from a colleague who I affectionately call my “E-mail Pastor”. Her notes are always brief, powerful and always include a prayer. Last week she sent this message and I asked permission to share it our Grace and Race web site. May you be blessed by her words. I thank God for her ministry.
Today’s prayer is inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:16-20: Dearest Lord Jesus, you teach us to regard no one from a worldly point of view. That as followers of you we are a new creation; and that the old has gone, the new has come! You give us this gift from God, who reconciled us to himself through You, His Son. So we ask, “What does this ministry of reconciliation look like?” Paul writes that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them,” or that You “have committed to us the message of reconciliation and that we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” In a world that is addicted to adversarial relationships, we ask You to help us to understand that first we must be reconciled to You, and all other alignment must come through you. May your Holy Spirit fill us with the power to be Your reconciling ambassadors. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
Have you ever wondered what the word reconcile means? My computer search has these words as synonyms: settle, bring things together, square, reunite, merge or patch up. My question is how can we do this if a person we want to be reconciled with is not interested in settling, reuniting or patching things up?
You see I woke up with the word reconciliation on my heart, and I am remembering that before I went into ministry, I studied the process of alternative dispute resolution. The interesting concept I took away from my work in alternative dispute resolution is that often times parties would meet for months only to reject the proposed resolution at the time—and then years later when the issue was resolved it was usually aligned with the original recommendation that was rejected. This said to me that the process worked—but it happened in God’s time.
I then did a search for the verb “align” in the scriptures and only found 3 mentions in Peterson’s translation, The Message. If you have time today, look up John 5.24; 6.35; and 6.39.
So as I write this prayer I confess that I am more aware today that reconciliation is not what this world respects but what our Lord expects from us—and that we cannot do this with human determination. Reconciliation as a ministry is the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
So as Kent Keith wrote in his poem, “in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.” As followers of our Triune God our mission is to be people who settle, bring things together, square, reunite, merge or patch up relationships through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it will happen in God’s time.
Dear Lord, it really is between you and me. You never leave my side; help me to remember that and to do your will in all ways. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Pastor, Chesterbrook UMC