O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; because we are overwhelmed and overcome with a sense of powerlessness amidst the gravity and weight of all that is happening around us… give us help, incentive, passion, faith, and hope to persevere upon the path of transformation through our actions and life; and through our contemplation and prayer. Draw us together in prayer to both discern and wield the ways of goodness, compassion, justice, and peace, in ourselves — and in our shared society and culture – just as Jesus of Nazareth did in his day. And like Jesus, Paul of Tarsus, and Francis of Assisi, and Julian of Norwich, and Gandhi of India, Benedict of Nursia and Thomas Cranmer, and Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Merton, and Richard Rohr, and the multitude of unknown and forgotten saints with whom we joyfully take our place amongst — make us instruments of holy and powerful intercession for the sake of our world and our times; Amen.
The stream of tradition and spirituality within which we belong in the Episcopal Church and Anglican communion is a stream which currents include the dedication to the power and formation of prayer on behalf of the times and society we live. Our tradition invokes common prayer, a prayer that does not simply invoke the passions and perspectives of individuals; but prayer that bring individuals together to create holy, humble, and powerful sources of change and transfiguration of their time and place. Prayer that calls for justice and well-being for all citizens. Prayers that lift up or bring down rulers and administrations; prayer that intercedes on behalf of whole groups and ethnicities; prayer that prays for cities, for states, for nations, for worlds, and even for galaxies; prayer that invokes the kingdom upon the earth. And prayer that empowers the power-less to act.
Fr. Richard Rohr’s commitment to action and contemplation and the power of prayer in our own day is inspired by a statement attributed to the Greek Philosopher, Archimedes, who wrote some two hundred years before Jesus walked the earth, ““Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ”
Inspired by the faith and spirituality he found in the life and teachings of Jesus, Paul of Tarsus wrote to early followers of Jesus, “By the humility and gentleness of Christ…the weapons we wield are not the weapons of destruction in the world; but ours do have the power to demolish divine strongholds and principalities who wage war against the creation and goodness of God.” In other words, Paul, just as Jesus before him, and Francis, and Julian, and Cranmer, and Bonhoeffer, and Dr. King, and Gandhi, and all the others who lived amidst perilous times… they found their lever, they planted their feet, and they moved their world. They overthrew tyrants, they lessened the oppression of racism and sexism, they inspired a more wide-spread sharing of resources and economic justice – they expanded education – they struck down unjust laws – they scrambled and foiled the plots of dictators, and they awoke the church of their day to the complicity and neglect to which it had plummeted. The odds mounted against them were mighty and fearful – but they managed to tap into the unfathomable powers of the divine cosmos – and with their lever – and with their tenacity – and with their faith – and with God almighty, they moved their world.
In our history books and legends, these people loom as giants and saints… but in their day and time, they were like you and I — frail, vulnerable, powerless, and afraid..but who managed to find the same stream that you and I have access .. the stream of prayer that is shared with others to form communities of transformation. These people who have gone before us have left us the path to follow…the path that is not consumed or intimidated by the corruption and violence of their day…but the path of divine power that brings down that which destroys the creatures and creation of God.. we have inherited this way in our baptismal covenant when we promised to renounce the powers and principalities that destroy the creatures of God. We all said “yes,” but we all feel powerless and incapable of rising against the tides of division and hatred and violence and anger and lies that saturate our times and culture.
As I scroll my facebook feed, listen to the news on the radio, observe the publication of books on cultural division and political partisanship, and attune to all the conversations around me there is a pervasive sense of foreboding and fear concerning the welfare and soul of our nation and our world. On facebook there is almost a daily post from yet another person announcing their break from social media because they can’t take the vitriol and conflict. One popular bloggest announced, “I am sick of it” referring to the intensity of our present and invasive political and cultural climate.
So… when the weight becomes too heavy, and the task too hard, do we simply reside ourselves to the prevailing sense of hopeless and powerless ness? Or do we pick up the weapons and armor created specifically for the weak and powerless? We need to tap into the ancient stream of peace and goodness and compassion and draw strength and hope for ourselves and for the times and world in which we live. Just as those who have gone before us did in their time and place.
God has empowered the church through the Spirit of Christ, to intercede for the sake of the world, to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, upon the earth…” We are not powerless, Christ has made us powerful! When we pray, mountains can be moved. Darkness can be lifted. Chaos and deception can be overcome with balance and truth. In his letter to his young disciple, Paul told Timothy, “You have not received the spirit of timidity, but of power and transformation.” So may we take our lever, find our place, plant our feet, and move our world” from the place we are –to the place of love, of justice, of peace, and of compassion for the multitudes…Amen.
3. For the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.