Peace and how to pray for it


Tough times.

When we are “at war” with some thing or some place or some group, the most difficult things we can do are to pray for peace without also praying for the decimation of our enemies, and also to pray for our enemies. I say often (I probably nag too much about it) that praying for our enemies is advanced Christianity. It’s rubber-meeting-road as to type of spiritual person: remembering to pray / meditate for those who most want to hurt you, to defame you, to kill you in the name of what they think is right.

In peace, pray for your enemies, as I have prayed for you.

I do wish that Jesus would have come right out and said something like that in those red-text parts of the Gospels.

Oh, wait! He did!

“You have heard that it was said ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR BUT HATE YOUR ENEMIES.’ But I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your father who is in Heaven; for he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous…” (Mtt. 5:44)

I’m afraid that many folks who think that they are good Christians only read as far as “hate your enemies,” and stop, because that is the part that suits them. That does not make them good Christians, or good people at all, according to the Western Christian view.

Those people are looking for an excuse to hate, and this verse might give them one, claiming it comes directly from Jesus. That decision of theirs is both sad and wrong, and according to what was actually said in the entire passage probably makes them out to be evil and unrighteous,

according to what Jesus really said in this passage.

When you were a kid (hopefully not as an adult) did you ever have to go up to some other kid you got in a playground scruff with, and some teacher who busted you made you both shake hands and make up? How galling was that? Have you ever done something as an adult to someone that was so bad that apologizing to them was so embarrassing you were afraid to do it? So it goes with this praying for stuff you really don’t want to pray for. You have to – you know – but if you didn’t just get busted by God… you wouldn’t.

That’s the way this stuff goes.

When we ask for peace, there’s little use in praying for some impossibility such as asking that it will all just stop. You know better. That’s not the way humans play at war.

Instead spend time in your meditations thinking on what can be done, what parts can be prayed for. It will vary by situation but doesn’t it always revolves around some variation of one side (or all sides) getting their heads out of their butts to understand the errors that brought everybody to violence and fear. From there, work – when possible – for peace.

As you know, it won’t always be possible to find, yet we pray for it anyway.

The Book of Common Prayer gives us this as a peace prayer, comparing the kind of “Stuff” that is going on around us to what Heaven is like:

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: so mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. – Amen

It’s all about the love. No smiting or crushing necessary.

If you’d like to read more about praying for peace when we really don’t want to, you might also read my entry on Mark Twain’s The War Prayer.

Tomorrow I will post a prayer for your enemies, so we don’t mix up the two today. Meanwhile, pray for peace each day in whatever your style of thoughts and meditations. Create the change in yourself to make the peace that extends to all the worlds around you.

Do your part for creating the peace for which we so sorely pray.

Keep the faith!
– Amen

 

 

Lookin’ For Love – How The Church Will Survive Lame-brained politics, part 1

beliefs do not make you a better personWestern Christian churches in general have become too political. That is a good place to start. Some of them (not naming names or denominations here) have turned the sacred table of welcome into their own bully pulpit. They speak things to their congregants that go against all the positive teachings of any legitimate sacred text. And the sad part is that these fools tend to speak the loudest, and get the most attention in the media.

 

If you’re a real Christian, it’s embarrassing.

People who are not religious – and some who are flamingly not religious – point to these vapid talking heads and say “See! There! I told you!” about how a (Christian) spiritual belief is some sort of fantastic illusion, filled with fairy tales and hate and us vs. them. I will not argue the point: if spiritual folks don’t believe like I do then hooray for them. I will still stand for the things I believe in, and continue to act (I hope) as a nice person expressing love toward others. I do this in my own practice as my example – and my expectation – of a heavenly kingdom all around us.

And here I stop going into theological detail; this is not a debate.

What about the painful and embarrassing political stuff that gives “good, decent, church-going people” a bad rap? What to do? The answer is very simple:

The church will go on.

It might not look what “the church” that we visualize now. Christian community began in the catacombs and meeting in secret in folks’ houses. It’s had to go underground to exist in spite of ponderous political regimes. It’s been changed around and burnt out and bombed, and yet it somehow continues.

The same now.

The Church, as serious practicing folks of Western Christian religion know it, will outlive the sputum of hatred coming from some – but not all – pulpits today. Hate can only take you so far: like a fire, once the hatred eliminates everything that’s around it, there’s simply nothing left to hate, and the fire burns itself out.

Love goes on forever because it is a giving-out, and not a taking-away.

Side note: I’m not a huge fan of the Southern Baptists because of some of their beliefs particularly around not being a fully-welcoming church who will take in any soul off the street, allow them in, and feed them the refreshment of scripture.

(My apologies here to the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists who are the bright-shining exception.)

My mother sent me this video as an example of how good a group of people can be without preaching and proselytizing. A story of about how a group of so-called Christians can stand-up, show-up, and show their beliefs at work in the help of others. The “ministry” here is in the doing, and not in the preaching and arguing.

The North Carolina Baptist Men – wheels on the ground:

This is the face of a faith that will long outlast the political bullies.
On the other side of the country, in the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles a volunteer group across many churches in the area use this easy to formulate project that is not based on going out and “saving the heathen.” Instead it is a means to get up, show up, and display their beliefs (and faith) through action. Laundry Love happens in many locations around the country, organized by many different groups. You won’t see any preaching or converting. You will see “what needs to get done here and now?” action.

Showing some Love in Huntington Beach, CA

These two examples are what the real Christians out there want to see: our faith (and personal beliefs) in action in our communities, all for the benefit of others. Any group that wishes to use the term Christian can not put down down and ridicule and exclude, while at the same time feel as if they are “building up the kingdom of Heaven.” 

They’re tearing it down.

The real Christians simply love. There’s many different flavors and variations of that, but the point of it all is to pay forward that greatest of all love to others.

Keep the faith!
– Amen

 

Fly to Heaven – a prayer for our creative work

This prayer is quoted from Marianne Williamson’s book, “Illuminata, A Return to Prayer.” I loved it at first read, because a prayer of thanksgiving for the work that I produce never really dawned on me. I always think of my work as “that which I do,” and not as something of a higher mission.

Hopefully I will think better now, as I pick up my digital pen.

Dear God,

I dedicate this work to you,.
I imprint your mind upon it.
Fly with it unto the heavens.
Use it to shower your love upon the world.
Thank you for your faith in me that such a glorious mission has been placed in my hands.

– Amen

Think carefully before praying that second line, I imprint your mind upon it. There is a grave difference between expressing that which is God in our creative output, and putting words in God’s mouth.

Think on the work you do as that mission that has been placed in your hands, regardless of how miniscule or unimportant you think your work is. Let your finished work go to “fly unto the heavens” and bring back the love you express. Bring it back to share with others.

Keep the faith!