Now Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
My favorite theologian in the whole world is also my friend, who often dons his "grandfather" hat for me, and guides me and prays for me. He is perhaps most well known among the people who love him dearly for his profoundly crafted prayers. He sent this one to me over the weekend- I am honored to recieve it, and eager to share it.
O God of Israel, you called Israel into covenant with thee and promised them that their obedience to thee would be a blessing to the world of other peoples and nations. You came again to Israel in that Israelite named Jesus, whom we proclaim as our Christ and thy Son. From Israel and Jesus you have summoned Gentiles into a new covenant of love and peace with thee and with all others.
Most of us gathered here today, O Lord, are just such Gentiles, with nothing glorious to claim on our own. If left to our own devices we are subject to the sin of worshipping our own gods of Gentile power and war. As we now pray together, we confess our joy at being summoned by thy grace to know thee truly in Jesus Christ.
But we also confess our bewilderment at how difficult it is to learn to live under thy grace. Our own lives are often in disarray and confusion and that while we claim to be thy children by adoption, we act as the obedient children of other gods that beckon us to serve their glory. We confess that in the midst of so much violence and hatred in this world that we are attracted to those gods who are armed with weapons of mass destruction and who promise to protect us from enemies. When we are scared, Lord, and full of fear, we flee to those with guns and armor as the really important powers that will finally make us safe and secure.
With guns in our hands and money in the bank and security guards around us, we confess it is easy to forget about the poor, the weak, and the strangers that you love and have summoned us to love.
And yet, O Lord, it astonishes us that in spite of our pagan ways and our idolatries, you still extend thy grace to us. It is the tender threads of thy gracious forgiveness that draws us to this gathering for worship. In our weakness we yearn to hear again of thy grace, to have sketched out before us just what it means to become followers of Jesus. Even as we confess that our following Jesus is more nearly a hesitant stumbling and fumbling, we nevertheless reach out and grope for thy forgiving grace. We pray, O Lord, do not abandon us to the darkness of our self-centered fears and hatreds and our fondness for self-serving lies and falsehoods that incapacitate our will to love thy truth.
Reaching for goodness, O Lord, we pray for our pastor and his family.
O Lord, it is not in our own name that we dare to pray these concerns and confessions; rather it is in the name of him who was slain by the powerful rulers of empire, even him named Jesus, the one who brings thy salvation to us. It is he who has also taught us to pray together: Our Father, who art in Heaven...