Monday, May 30, 2011

Have we Earned it?

Here's my sermon from yesterday:

Here's the scene from Saving Private Ryan that touches my heart so deeply.

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Easter VI - Memorial Day

Tomorrow's Collect is very appropriate for both Easter-tide and Memorial Day Weekend. ...

Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen. Sunday's message from the Gospel of John reminds us that Jesus' love is constantly available to us through God's Holy Spirit. Christ's sacrificial love is the governing commandment for our daily lives. We are members of Christ's body because of his willingness to live in this world, die for our sins, and reconcile us to God and one another through his resurrection.

This year's observance of Memorial Day especially reminds us that we live in a free and democratic society. We somewhat complacently and unconsciously enjoy this holiday because of the sacrificial military service of women and men who willingly take vows to defend our Constitution. Our freedom to worship, work, pray, and play as we do is available to us because soldiers, sailors, marines, and Air Force personnel do everything from winning the war in Afghanistan through ingenuity to offering support to victims of the horrible tornadoes in Joplin, MO.

How often do we visibly and honestly express our thanks to God for Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection? On a more national plane: How many of us owe our lives in some manner or another because of the service and/or sacrifice of a military service member or veteran? All of us really. Do we return our thanks to God for the presence of Jesus Christ who is our ultimate savior and friend by caring for our neighbors in uniform, who willingly place themselves in harm's way?

It's interesting to note that less than 1% of our nation's population serves in the US Military. Tragically, current statistics suggest that more and more young servicemen and women are committing suicide than are dying in combat. Our political and theological views may vary about whether or not we should be prosecuting a war in Afghanistan. The fact that we are does not negate the principle that we as citizens of this nation promise to take care of the brave young women and men who serve thousands of miles away from home and often return to us with huge problems and no one to talk to other than a therapist once every three months or so.

Christian compassion commands us to care for our neighbors and we are presently ignoring young Veterans in my opinion. Check out this Brian Lehrer interview w/ Paula Caplan and ascertain whether or not you and your church should be doing more to listen to the stories and sorrows of our Vets. We can all learn more about welcoming them home here.

Blessings Along The Way, Jim+

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pauline Capital Christianity

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12: 9-16)

It's kinda weird. I'm writing this blog post as Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United States Congress on Israel's relationship with the United States and Palestine. He seemingly has a much different take on how to achieve peace in the Middle East than I do. Here's what I think St. Paul had to say about pluralism, politics, and Christian living.

St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome during the last years of his missionary work. Paul expresses his desire to travel all the way to Spain in The Letter to the Romans, Chapter 15. We know that he had proclaimed the Christian gospel elsewhere throughout the Eastern portions of the Empire. He sought a home base to work from as he completed his apostolic work and hoped that Rome would be such a place in the West. Consequently, he wrote this epistle as a means to carefully and systematically explain his interpretation of Christ's Gospel, hoping that the Roman Christians would "embrace him and it completely." *(Wallace, 2011, para. D-1).

Marla Selvidge suggests that Paul wrote to Roman Christian converts to urge them to practice an ethic of tolerance. His intention was to unite Jewish and Gentile Christians by insisting that everyone shares equality before God and The Law. (Selvidege, The New Testament: A Timeless Book for All Peoples, 1999) Paul's teachings led to lots of conflict. He upset the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem because of his conviction that Judaism's purity laws and circumcision should not apply to Gentiles. His proclamation of Jesus Christ's gospel led to his imprisonment and execution sometime around 64 CE according to Eusebius of Caesarea. (A Dictionary of the Bible. by W. R. F. Browning. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Apollo Group. 24 May 2011). Peace and harmony are often very complicated issues. Those who promote such values in the public forum without political power are silenced through one means or another.

Romans 12 really sums up Progressive Christianity for me. Genuinely strive to love people. Humbly be hospitable and kind to friends and strangers alike. Persevere and believe. Render aid to the poor and the helpless. Thankfully live into all of these virtues with God's help because of faith in Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection. Kristin Swenson puts it this way: "Jesus, the incarnation of "I Am," told his disciples that he would have to suffer and die. And they would too. "For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." I don't think that he was talking only about physical martyrdom, but rather about acting and be-ing, day in and day out, in the One who Is. This, Jesus says, is life, and the whole world's profit doesn't hold a candle to it." (Swenson, Christian Century, para. #5&6)

Here's the thing though - we are all still working on "being it," aren't we? You listen to politicians and people on the street alike and it's hard to observe them outdoing one another in honor or ardently serving the Lord. My critique probably lines up with Paul's. None of us are worthy of redemption or salvation under God's Law. It is only through Christ's Grace and example, through periods of suffering and growth, that we come to a place of receiving the Holy Spirit's everlasting, reconciling, and fulfilling salvation. I just wish I'd see more of it in the nation's capital as well as around the nation these days.

Oddly enough, it's an American Muslim who speaks from a Washington DC newspaper who points out how we and our nation's leaders can more fully live into Progressive (Interfaith Religious) Christian Ethics. Eboo Patel recently wrote:

"Right now, on over 75 American college campuses, student leaders are recognizing that religion in public life is a critical issue of the 21st century, and are stepping up to the challenge. Students are organizing social action campaigns, bringing together thousands who believe that though they come from diverse faiths and traditions, they can make the world better together. ... they are publicly modeling the possibility of bridging the faith divide, proving there is a different way to relate to each other, based on cooperation rather than conflict." (Patel, May 9, 2011, para. 10&11)

College students are more capable of abiding with one another than Peter and Paul? Young Muslims, Jews, and Christians care for one another more than their parents and politicians. Is that true. Is it true that students still are more capable of practicing what they preach than their pastors, priests, rabbis, and imams? We begin building bridges with one another when we go out of our way to be, work, eat, pray, play, and grow with one another.

Blessings Along The Way,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Easter 5A

We can laugh and make fun about the fact that the rapture “didn’t happen” – it seems kinda ridiculous to some of us but the fact is that some people believe that Jesus left them behind yesterday. They feel outcast. Some people have sold their homes. Some people are opening empty refrigerators this morning.

One man, according to the Washington Post, packed up his minivan and drove his family 3,000 miles from Maryland to California. Keith Bauer told a reporter: “I had some skepticism but I was trying to push the skepticism away because I believe in God."

The problem with such apocalyptic thinking is that it is grounded in a “Gnostic” theology that orthodox and pluralist Christians reject, albeit for different reasons. “Gnostics” such as Harold Camping believe that they have a special knowledge permitting them and others to escape this earth while sharing a more holy relationship with God. Early Christian Gnostics sought out one another to share secret symbols and information in an effort to determine how to escape a world they viewed as ghastly wicked and corrupt. Many of them believed Jesus Christ to be the divine means for escaping their gruesome bodies and this imperfect plain of existence.

It’s difficult for me to read this morning’s text and come away with a sense of Jesus abandoning his followers. This morning’s Gospel doesn’t readily read as if Christ has got a special book and space for a select group of people. In my father’s house – there are many mansions and I go to prepare a place for you. That space is for the doubting Thomas’ of the world. That mansion is for the denying Peters of the world. That relationship with God is for anyone who seeks God and desires a deeper relationship with God. We place our faith in the conviction that The Way that we create, such belief is through an enduring relationship with Jesus the Christ who lived and lives in this world. We hope that such faith is sustained through Jesus Christ’s presence on this planet, his sacrificing death and the Cross and the victory of his death through his Resurrection from the tomb on Easter Sunday morning. We believe that he will return one day without knowing when that day is – and meanwhile that he is sustaining us to go out into the world rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim through Word and Deed that Christ is not dead nor are we leaving to meet him in the air. We are Jesus Christ’s Living Stones. We may be babies in the faith but God is calling us to proclaim Christ’s Grace through our words and our deeds. You can hear more here:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Way, The Truth, the 21st?

This coming Sunday's "Gospel" has been, and is, the foundation for Protestant Christianity's understanding of God's "plan for salvation." Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6. Here are some thoughts for you to consider about this text though. If this message is so important for people to know, why is it only found in the Gospel of John? Why doesn't Jesus make this statement to Luke, Matthew, and Mark's Christian communities? Second, what's the appropriate aim of a Christian's life? Focusing on what will happen to our eternal souls (us?) when we depart this mortal life and/or concerning ourselves with the nature of this life so as to prepare for the life that follows our death?

You probably know that an organization, Family Radio Worldwide
has predicted the end of the world on May 21st. They make this statement on their webpage. God is the guardian of His secrets contained in the Bible and only He determines when or if His secrets are revealed. The Holy Spirit reveals to Christ's people the information needful for them not only to be ready, but also to warn the world, Christ is returning.

Such sectarianism is contrary to my interpretation of the Gospel. Apparently, I am not alone. Pastors and priests with significantly different understandings of scripture agree. Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX writes that such predictions "give non-Christians one more reason to discount the Bible" and " lead some people to make foolish decisions." Rick Morley+, Rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church - Basking Ridge (Cool Webpage!!!) writes: "I get uncomfortable with any version of our faith which turns Christianity into something that's all about us. There are far too many teachings on Jesus, salvation, and Heaven, which remake Christianity into a narcissistic cult. And that's the very opposite of the kind of faith that Jesus presents and compels us to follow."

I agree.

Alexander Ivanov's painting The Appearance of Christ to the People depicts a different understanding of Jesus' messianic mission. The painting focuses on John the Baptist's proclamation of The Messiah's arrival. John speaks to recently baptized people as well as to others who yearn to encounter God. Ivanov worked on this painting for 20 years. Jesus' "flock" includes young and old people alike. There are wealthy people and even a slave whose face, as Ivanov put it, "shows the signs of joy through habitual suffering".

Proclaiming Christ to be the perfect image and nature of God should not be exclusionary, should it? Our belief in Jesus' resurrection serves as a means to an end to bring others and ourselves to fuller and deeper understandings of God's love and compassion for all of God's creation. My sense is that Jesus the Christ's desire for all of us to believe in him as The Way, The Truth, and The Light is a divine invitation for us to encounter God through Christ mortally and constantly, now. There are quite a few more days in Easter-tide to experience the Risen Christ in the midst of our parishes (Christian communities), the sacraments, and the people around us. Our churches should unquestionably be places where newly baptized persons and "seekers" can experience our Risen Lord's love and fellowship. Let's not pack our bags for what is to come, just yet.

Blessings Along The Way,

Monday, May 16, 2011

More on Abundance

We all desire (perhaps are in want of) being "understood." Yesterday, I preached from John 10: 1-10 about the profundity and depth of knowing and believing in Jesus' love. What was most amazing about that sermon and Eucharist that I spent with the amazing people of St. George's was that it was just a slice of holiness that was placed in between a number of other sacramentally sacred moments over the course of 50 hours or thereabouts.

The sacred space and time began with the arrival of my companion - a man that has loved me and been a blessing to me for more than six years now. His wisdom and encouragement were instrumental in making the remainder of the weekend so special for me and for others. We dined at Trinity and The Pope, and celebrated the end of the academic year for him. We got massages later on in the weekend as a means for reducing some stress from the tensions that ministry and teaching often bring. Here's a "shout out" for Maria Friedman. It's amazing what a skilled massage therapist can do when she or he knows who you are and how your body works.

I then had the great joy of presiding @ John and Cate's wedding. They are a terrific couple. I have a special place in my heart for them and Cate's parents. Her dad is my friend and has been a helpful adviser as well. John and Cate's vows have a great chance of bearing delicious fruit because of their obvious love and care for one another, Christ's love for them, and the support of their families and friends.

Familial and friendly compassion: such love was extremely manifest and present at yesterday's confirmation service at St. James Episcopal Church in Long Branch. I was pleased to present 14 of our parish's young people and 1 mature adult for confirmation and reception as Episcopalians. I was blessed to places hands on each of their shoulders as +George confirmed them. He asked them if they were "signing up for Jesus." The music was beautiful; the setting, sacred. "What a perfect day!!" as once parent said.

What followed though was expecially tender and touching as +George and I went to the home of another confirmand. We went to the home because this young man's father is dying. We were greated by the young man and his mother. We confirmed him in the presence of his uncle who is his mentor, his father and mother, and more than 25 other family members and friends. We broke bread and drank wine. We laid hands on, and prayed for a loving parent who is leaving this life too soon. There was laughter, there were tears. There were words, there was silence. There was space and grace to be understood. John writes: "From the fullness of Christ's grace we have all received one blessing after another." (John 1:16) Such grace was constantly present all weekend long. My MasterCard was helpful for some of it. Jesus the Christ's love embraced every single moment of the weekend. I'm thankful and humbled to be held and cared for by such a God as well as by Christ's people who surround me and love God and me.

Thich Nhat Hahn writes: "People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child - our own two eyes. All is a miracle." He is correct but there's more to it than that when Christ enters into the suffering, celebration, and sharing of understanding of our lives to one another and to God. There's a deeper and more intense sense of mortal life's limitations but everlasting hope in Christ's presence as the Good Shepherd and the door that Christians come and go through in this life and the lives to come. It's a blessing to believe that Jesus the Christ knows each of us and gives us the freedom to be more vulnerable and thoughtful towards one another. It's a unbelievable gift to be a priest and to participate in and observe God's love in times such as these I lived into over the past few days. Such abundance is undeserved but awesome to behold.

Blessings Along The Way,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hanging Around with Jesus

He left the meeting place and went to Simon's house. Simon's mother-in-law was running a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. He stood over her, told the fever to leave—and it left. Before they knew it, she was up getting dinner for them.

When the sun went down, everyone who had anyone sick with some ailment or other brought them to him. One by one he placed his hands on them and healed them. Demons left in droves, screaming, "Son of God! You're the Son of God!" But he shut them up, refusing to let them speak because they knew too much, knew him to be the Messiah.

He left the next day for open country. But the crowds went looking and, when they found him, clung to him so he couldn't go on. He told them, "Don't you realize that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God's kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?" Meanwhile he continued preaching in the meeting places of Galilee.(Luke 4: 38-44 - The Message)

There's something very interesting and incarnational going on in Luke's gospel. People want Jesus to hang around with them for awhile. It's true in Peter's Mother-In-Law's house. It's true on the shores of Lake Gennesaret in Chapter 5. It was true back there in the synagogue in Nazareth until Jesus told his hometown neighbors that they weren't the focus of his life anymore. Then they tried to throw him off of a cliff. 'Can't please everybody, especially if they knew you as a kid. Cleopas and his traveling companion on the other hand. They got to travel along and break bread with the Risen Christ and personally encounter God's realm in a special way.

Jesus' healing truly touched people. Jesus' prophetic teachings truly inspired people. Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection truly transformed people. People desired to remain in contact with him.

So, here's the question: Now that Jesus is gone and The Church is here -=- Why aren't people as excited? I mean I get the whole miracle thing - I imagine most mainline Christian Churches would have hundreds of more members if the pastors could pull off returning sight to a blind person and/or energize in and out of the nave every now Linkand then. I don't think that's the reason though. I'm confident that Jesus attracted followers despite his divine abilities. The evangelists such as St. Paul rarely if ever mention the fact that Jesus was a miracle-worker. They did declare that Jesus the Christ's presence radically changed lives.

That's the Gospel that doesn't seem to have as much traction as it did on the Road to Emmaus and in Peter's Mother-In-Law's house. We are struggling with encountering the Risen Christ, perhaps God generally. Emergent Church leader Tony Jones was recently wrestling with this type of question. He was defending his dissertation at Princeton Theological Seminary when one of his examiners asked him: How is God revealed to human beings? Jones seemingly struggled with a response during the defense but subsequently, along with the help of Peter Rollins came up with this brilliant answer: “God is an event,” said Pete, “And liturgical practices are the ways that human beings organize their experience of the event they call ‘God.’”

Episcopalians should have the corner on God if liturgical practices and the Incarnation are the means by which human beings come into close contact with The Divine. I conceptually love the idea of God being more of a verb than a noun. However Jesus the Christ was someone who impacted people, personally, tactilely. We as The Church need to be capable of doing that through Christ's presence in the sacraments and in our ministries. We need to be reaching out to people and joining up with Christ out there in the real world. We similarly need to be hanging out more closely, and inviting Jesus more authentically and relevantly into our liturgies and Bible studies. We may not be able to raise people from the dead but we can surely share the story of Jesus who has risen from the grave to re-create our lives and redeem the world. We can break bread with one another in such ways that we invite Jesus right into our very midst, our very hearts. We can hope that healing will take place even as we consume the bread and wine that Jesus shared with his disciples in the Upper Room and Emmaus. We can believe, give consent to the truth that hanging with Jesus is still as possible today even as it was 2,000 years ago, even if we can't see him.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Being Yourself as a Christian and as a church

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’
(Luke 4: 15-21)

I really appreciate this passage of Scripture from Luke. Its values reside at the core of Jesus' life and ministries. The Gospel virtues of compassion, good news through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, and our thankful participation in co-Creating Christ's peaceful reign are central to the Church's work, here and now. All of that is true for me but what I find most important to me this morning is this thought: Jesus of Nazareth was a truly authentic, independent person, and motivated human being.

It took Jesus a tremendous amount of courage to walk into his hometown and tell his family and friends that God possessed a bigger plan for him than only taking care of them and their needs. It took Jesus tremendous perseverance to intentionally live into each day solely with the end in mind of tending to other people's needs, especially sick, economically poor, and lonely folks. It took Jesus God-given strength to lead his followers into a deeper understanding of how truly good and loving God is. Jesus had to trust upon Divine self-sufficiency to push back against oppressive systems and greedy people. Jesus' transcendent authority and/or uncanny Grace was definitely the means by which he escaped an angry mob so that he could continue to authentically live into God's plan for his life, and ours. Jesus was so blessedly independent that he went to the Cross and rose from the tomb to demonstrate and proclaim that eternal life is not to be found in adopting this world's values or someone else's perspective. Truth and everlasting life is found by believing in Christ's Way of Life and God's understanding of Creation, not the fame and fortune that the world often offers. Jesus was so "holy" (sic) independent, yet so mutually interdependent with us that his Word continues to invite us into living similar and life giving lives with and through him.

I subscribe to the "How to of the Day" website on my IGoogle page. Today's teaching was pretty cool, 10 ideas on "How to Be Yourself." There were some really good ideas: 1.) Find Yourself and Define Yourself on your Own Terms. 2.) Avoid Fixating on The Past and Not Letting Yourself Grow. 3.) Stop Caring about How Other People Perceive You. 4.) Be Honest and Open. 5.) Relax. 6.) Treat Yourself as you Would Treat Your Own Friend (sorta the opposite of the Golden Rule). 7.) Develop and Express Your Own Individuality. 8.) Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. 9.) Follow Your Own Style. 10.) Accept that some Days You are the Pigeon and Some Days you are the Statue.

Consider how Jesus is or isn't present in these suggestions. He defined his life, teachings, and the Law in his own fashion. He didn't back down to the religious or civic authorities of his time. He was keenly honest especially with those who were his companions. He didn't accept the status quo of his time, or ours. There's much for us as Christians and Christ's Church to adopt in Luke 4 and WikiHow's suggestions. There are plenty of people and parishes who struggle to escape from their past shadows. Many of us as well as the churches we belong to yearn to be like somebody else or the successful congregation down the street. We're so busy seeking to become someone or something that we're not instead of living more authentically into who we are. This is an especially difficult predicament for denominational communities who have a set of doctrines and disciplines they must adhere to in order to belong to their religious affiliations. (I think that notion is called orthodoxy in much of Christian history). I would counter by suggesting that uniformity and unity are not synonymous and the Church has rarely if ever been monolithic. Nonetheless, the Gospel's core values and commandments should shape our faith and day-to day living rather than our own selfish desires to live as we chose rather than how Jesus the Christ did, and does.

Here's my prayer that God will bless you with some opportunities to speak the Truth as Jesus did to his fellow Nazarenes. Here's my hope that you will embrace an opportunity to find the meaning of your life today with a Jesus-inspired moment. Here's a wish for our Church to become just a little less tense and a little more creatively enlightened today & in the days to come.

Blessings Along The Way...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Justice Has Been Served for Who and How?

President Obama's statement on Sunday included these words : "Justice has been served." My initial response was "For who?" Whose injustices have been redeemed. Whose grief has been relieved? How has yet one more incident of capital punishment, however truly deserved, brought justice to anyone here in the United States or around the world.

Miroslav Volf states
this point much better than I could:

  • For the followers of Jesus Christ, no one's death is a cause for rejoicing. This applies to Osama bin Laden no less than to any other evildoer, large or small. Jesus Christ died for all; there are no irredeemable people. The path of repentance is open to anyone willing to walk on it, and no human being has the right to permanently close that path for anyone.
The ethical problem as I see it is one of utilitarianism. Bin Laden's long awaited death brings the most efficient solution to the greatest number of people. The problem though is that such an ethical and theological device is so self-serving and somewhat misaligned with Jesus' ethical standards as we know them: The Sermon on The Mount and Two Greatest Commandments.

The events of this week have left survivors of Sept. 11, 2001 feeling 9-11 Survivor"relieved, dumbstruck, bittersweet, and with other mixed emotions. I have followed and participated in many threads on Facebook and watched a great deal of cable news in an effort to more fully understand how my Christian faith influences my emotions regarding Osama Bin Laden's death. Some terms and emotions I have found myself praying about are: justice, peace, and blessing. I recall that the values that Jesus called blessed and indicative of God's reign included righteousness, mercy, humility, and mournful. These values are often contrary to secular values of power, revenge, pride, and lack of sincerity.

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote :

All human sin seems so much worse in its consequences than in its intentions.

History will reflect whether or not the sins of this nation's leaders or Osama Bin Laden and his followers will reap the greatest amounts of violence. Would all of this have been necessary if we had not intervened in Iraq and/or Afghanistan? Would all of this have been necessary if we had not supported Sadaam Hussein in the 1980s or the Pakistani government for the past decade.

Thousands upon thousands of people here in the United States and around the world have died. These numbers include thousands of Muslims and Christians alike. The moral issues surrounding and influencing their deaths and memories are both complex and conflictual. In that light, I would like to close with these two prayers:

A Muslim Prayer for Peace

"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise be to the Lord of the universe who has created us and made us tribes and nations, that we might know each other.
If the enemy inclines towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and trust in God, for the Lord is the One that hears and knows all things.
And the servants of God, most gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility,
And when we address them, we say PEACE."

Note: The prayer is a compilation from the Qur'an. It was one of the prayers for peace offered in Assisi, Italy, on the Day of Prayer for World Peace during the U.N. International Year of Peace, 1986.

A Christian response to war

Eternal God

Save us from weak resignation to violence

Teach us that restraint is the highest expression of power

That thoughtfulness and tenderness are marks of the strong.

Help us to love our enemies

Not by countenancing their sins,

But by remembering our own

And may we never for a moment forget

That they are fed by the same food,

Hurt by the same weapons,

Have children for whom they have the same high hopes as we do.

Grant us the ability

To find joy and strength not in the strident call to arms

but to grasp our fellow creatures

In the striving for justice and truth.


1991 NCC Australia & Australia Catholic relief.

Prepared by a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim (Aug. 1990)