Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

(16) Rejoice always, (17) pray without ceasing, (18) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


These seem impossible. I won't speak to our ability to literally carry out the Apostle's advice in verses 16 and 17. But today we might consider verse 18. Note that Paul does not say "give thanks for everything" - thank God! It would be spiritually destructive to bless evil or rejoice in injury.

But he does suggest that in any circumstance - illness, prison cell, poverty, persecution, grief - we can be attentive to those things which are also true, also real, and worthy of praise. Even in the midst of grave distress, a thankful heart is God's will for us. It is at least a partial remedy for our suffering. And it points us to the hope of redemption, seen in the grace which is continually at work in our lives.

This day, which in the U.S. is nominally a national day of thanksgiving, may we remember all for which thanks is due. For the cessation of attacks in Israel and Gaza - even a temporary peace is cause for thanks. For the many who turn to serve others. For food which answers our hunger. For companionship. For the breath of life. For the gifts of faith and the hope of healing.

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Woe to you, destroyer - prayer for peace

Woe to you, destroyer,
      you who have not been destroyed!
Woe to you, betrayer,
      you who have not been betrayed!
When you stop destroying,
      you will be destroyed;
when you stop betraying,
      you will be betrayed.
Lord, be gracious to us;
      we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
      our salvation in time of distress.
      Isaiah 33:1-2 (NIV)

The prophet cries out, warning at the disaster which is to come. War respects no one.

Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets;
      the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
The highways are deserted,
      no travelers are on the roads.
The treaty is broken,
      its witnesses are despised,
      no one is respected.
The land dries up and wastes away...
      Isaiah 33:1-2 (NIV)


Hamas rockets, Israeli bombs - no one is respected

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, O God, and for that of Gaza, of Damascus and all of Syria, of Kabul and Afghanistan, of Washington D.C. and the United States of America, of this whole beloved earth, your creation. Restrain the hands of all who would do violence, and raise up peacemakers, that your people may live in wholeness and know the blessings of peace. We thank you for every kindness and every work of justice, and pray that your reign is near, in Jesus name. Amen.