September 24, 2020
"O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love." Of all the lines in the Prayer of St. Francis, these may be the most pertinent to our present moment. In light of the stark divisions and growing incivility in our country, our denomination recently recommended that churches study together a document called "Seeking to Be Faithful Together: Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement." Its first principle is to "Give [those with whom you disagree] a hearing . . . listen before answering," referencing John 7:51 - "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?" - and Proverbs 18:13 - "If one gives answer before hearing, it is folly and shame." Only after listening and seeking to understand are we encouraged to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:13), and to do so with our goal being to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3).
The Prayer of St. Francis asks God to make us disciples who live these principles, putting the consolation of others ahead of our own, intentionally seeking to understand those whom we do not, and speaking words that express love, rather than bitterness, anger, or slander (Ephesians 4:31). Let us pray today for God to so shape us as instruments of his peace that we can model such love for the world around us:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek so much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Grace and Peace,