Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I’m taking a two-day break from the sermon on the mount to share two short messages about the days were living in. Most of today’s letter is about sharing a prayer that I hope we can all pray.
We tend to make all sorts of things into competitions with two clear sides. We tend to deal with the big issues of the world as if they naturally should be decided between two opposed teams. The truth is that most important issues are very complicated and have far more than two possible solutions and the best solution won’t be perfect. Like Thomas Edison’s science team testing through hundreds of different materials for a filament in the first practical electric light, we are looking for the best option. None of those filaments produced a light bulb that never failed, but some options were better than others.
To be upfront with you, I have political views, but I don’t believe that there are only two sides to any political question. I volunteer time to some political events, but I have never found a political party that isn’t a mess. To put it in a nutshell, all political parties tend to be unrealistic in their expectations of their plans, in the affordability of their plans, in the morality of their plans, and in their expectations of human beings.
The basic political truth is that the long fight is never resolved because the problems are too complicated, and the people are too complicated. We are always going to be striving for more freedom, more fairness, more liberty, more safety, more prosperity, more peace, more power, more comfort, more respectability, more competition, and more longevity. I like the adage in reform churches that “we are reformed and always reforming.” Another way to put it is that we are sinners who are always repenting… or people always striving to correct our previous errors. The political road is always paved with some good intentions, some missed opportunities, some skeletons in the closet, and some deferred dreams.
The following prayer begins with a loose adaptation of the twelfth chapter of Romans:
We offer ourselves to you.
Help us so that we will not conform ourselves to the pattern of this world.
Transform us by the renewal of our thoughts and minds.
Sustain us as we test each pathway to find what is good and pleasing in your sight.
Bless our humility so we will not think of ourselves as better than others.
Give us the faith to look at ourselves with sober judgment.
Remind us, as we serve in different functions, to serve as the organs of one body, working for the common good.
Remind us that we belong to each other and that each brother and sister is your child and our responsibility.
Bless us according to our different gifts.
Guide some of us to proclaim your word, some to serve others, some to teach, some to encourage some to give generously, some to lead diligently, and some to be cheerful in showing mercy.
Make our love sincere.
Help us to hate evil.
Help us to cling to good.
Help us to be devoted to all people with love.
Help us to compete in showing honor to each other.
Bless our devotion to each other with your love.
Make us enthusiastic and energetic in serving you.
Make us joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
Give us a love to share what we have with others.
Inspire us to be hospitable and welcoming in ways that reflect your love.
Make us a blessing to those who persecute us.
We ask you to bless all those people we might want to curse.
Lead us to places where we can rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
Move us to live in harmony with one another.
Destroy the evil parts of our pride and make us happy to associate with people of low position.
Please lead us way from being conceited, arrogant, and vain.
Lead us to avoid the temptation of taking credit away from others.
Strengthen us to reject all thoughts and desires for revenge.
Keep us mindful of doing what is right in the eyes of everyone.
As far as it is possible, as far as it depends on us, empower us to live at peace with everyone.
We leave all questions of ultimate justice to you.
Help us to only imprison those who need to be kept apart for their good and ours,
Push us to leave all thoughts of vengeance to you.
Help us to feed our enemies and give them drink: Help our good response to their evil actions bring them shame that leads to repentance.
Work in us, Lord, so we will not be defeated by evil.
Work in us to always to overcome evil with good.
Lord God, deliver us from all people who manipulate us with easy answers, fear, hatred, and greed.
Protect us from every false prophet and bad shepherd.
Protect us from easy answers and sweet tasting lies.
Protect us from selective blindness and mob mentality.
Bless our enemies and give them everything good.
Dear Jesus, Lamb of God, conquer us!
And let us follow you. Amen.