This prayer was inspired by Romans 15.4-13.
Dear God, St. Paul prayed for the people of Rome to have endurance and encouragement and an attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice they could glorify You the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Paul wanted the Romans to accept one another, just as Christ accepted each of them, in order to bring praise to God. And so we continue this prayer asking to be filled with all joy and peace as we trust in you, God, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Yesterday our morning Bible Study had a spirited conversation about what peace is. Peace, it seems to me, meant different things to each person. Our Advent study reminds us of Woody Allen’s take on the peaceable kingdom with his quote that “The lion will lie down with the lamb, but the lamb won’t get much sleep.”
If the lamb is depending upon the lion to suppress its natural instinct, the Woody Allen quote makes perfect sense; however, St. Paul is not talking about the lion’s ability to change but the Lord’s ability to reorient it. Jesus Christ had no model human being to follow when he was incarnated as a baby—his job was to reorient all of humanity by reflecting what God’s expectations for us are. Now before you think these expectations are beyond our ability and understanding think of the way a healthy parent tries to foster love for the members of a family. Ten years ago when my mother was dying from cancer—our family was stuck in the grief of losing her and bickering among ourselves in the predictable way families do in these situations. Our mother, on her death bad, made one request of us—she simply said, “Hug your sisters.” We did exactly what she told us to do, even though hugging was not what we wanted to do. The healing of our relationships began at that moment. To this day I remember my mother’s command to “Hug my sister.”
It seems to me, that life as a follower of Jesus Christ is not a battle between the weak and the strong, but rather an understanding that peace requires a balance that is fine tuned by being aligned with God and God’s purposes. When I think of God’s purpose for us—I think of creating and not destroying; loving and not hating; and reconciling and not estrangement. Peace must rest in our hearts to be reflected in our actions. Only by embracing God’s Holy Spirit can we even approach this kind of living. A suspicious world that depends upon human solutions without divine guidance won’t get much sleep, and without a good night’s sleep—peace will be evasive.
Dear Lord, Please fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in You so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Pastor, Chesterbrook UMC