Sunday, November 25, 2001
Offered by John H. Boyle, Parish Associate
Giver of life and Lord over death, in this time of uncertainty and anxiety, when we are more mindful of death and destruction and of the fragility of life, we go about our business with a more measured awareness that we dare not take your gift of life for granted, we dare not take one another for granted, we dare not take safety and security for granted, we dare not take you for granted.
If out of ignorance or indifference we are guilty of presumptuousness, thinking that because of who we are we are exempt not only from the consequences of our actions, but even from the contingencies of life, remind us of who we really are as your children and as your disciples, disciples of the one who set aside the perks of his kingly position and placed himself in harm’s way for the sake of us all. If we take anything for granted, O God, in the sense that we can count on it always, let it be your wondrous love for your creation and for every last person in it.
Quiet our fears and anxieties, dear God, and focus our attention on the tasks at hand, that by our faithful witness we might be a steadying influence upon those for whom the terrors of the moment stir up memories of the horrors in their past.
In this season of thanksgiving and in this time of terrible trouble, there are many things for which we are not grateful, O God. We are not grateful for women and men and children blown to bits by bombs and bullets, crushed in collapsed buildings, and incinerated in fiery aircraft. We are not grateful for that, God. We are not grateful for people dying from starvation or that the only home for others is a street, an alley, or a doorway. We are not grateful for that, God. We are not grateful for the collusion of corrupt leaders in power who exploit the weakness of others and care nothing for the welfare of those they exploit. We are not grateful for that, God. We are not grateful for deadly diseases that have no cure or for maladies and accidents that leave people maimed and crippled. We are not grateful for that, God. There are many things for which we are not grateful, O Lord, and we would be less than honest with you and with ourselves if we did not say so.
Yet do we give thanks for many things: for intimations of your love and care and for glimpses of your grace in the simple kindness of those who smooth the jars and irritations of our distracted lives; for those who in the midst of the world’s discontents are glad to be alive and help make us glad; and for those whose faith and hope are unbroken by the world’s woe.
Your love calls us to love, gracious God, but the love you call us to goes against our grain. For you call us to love not just our friends but our enemies, the people who don’t like us and the terrorist who kills us. You call us to love Osama bin Ladin and the people of the Taliban. And your call offends us, God, for we would rather loathe them than love them; we would rather pulverize them than pray for them. Yet, as best we know how, we do pray for them by committing them into your care. For they too are your children, however awful we think them to be and no matter how outraged we are at their deeds.
For we remember how you took Moses, a murderer, and transformed him into a mentor to an unruly people; how you took Peter, a liar, and transformed him into a leader in your service; and how you took Saul, a terrorist, and transformed him into Paul, a teacher of your truth and grace.
Continue your transforming work in each of us, dear God. Save us from attitudes and acts of terrorism in our own dealings with others, lest we think we are immune to the power of evil in our lives.
And when the shroud of sorrow falls upon us and the veil of hopelessness obscures our vision of a better future, bring to us the consolation of your Spirit and the comfort of your Presence to remind us that we cannot drift beyond your care, and that yours is a love that will never let us go.
We pray in the name of the King of Love, even Jesus our Lord, and with the words he taught his disciples to pray, saying Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church