upper room daily devotions

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Peace: Back to our roots

As many within the United Methodist Church sort through reactions and responses to the recent trial, conviction, and punishment of the Rev. Frank Schaefer, I return to a prayer from our Anglican Methodist roots. The second Collect in the Morning Prayer is the collect for peace, which reads:

"O GOD, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen." (Book of Common Prayer)

Sometimes, in order to see our way forward, we look back; we look back for wisdom that is ageless, hopeful, profound, grounding, and true. We need peace. We need it every day. Some need it especially this day. 

I find this prayer especially meaningful because its language is not part of our vernacular. The words do not come easily or naturally. They stand as reminders that peace may require a different language, different thinking, a different approach. This linguistic interruption, by its very awkwardness, ties us to our past, awakens us to the "difference-ness" that prayer introduces in our lives, and helps us distance ourselves from the "normal" of our world.

Of particular meaning for me in this prayer is the word "concord." I defy you to recall a moment when you wrote or spoke it without alluding to a plane, a comedy group, or a grape. "Concord," hosever, refers to harmony among people or groups of people, something many may believe is beyond the power of us all, even (perhaps) God. 

And so we pray. We plead with one another, with God, with our own souls to make the awkwardly unimaginable real. Right here. In our broken covenant. Within broken relationships. In a broken world. We pray. We pray for the wisdom of our heritage to move us into an harmonious future. And, for those times when concord eludes us, we pray for perseverance and protection. For all of this, and so much more, we pray.


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