This week has offered me another one of those “perfect storms” of challenge where numerous things come together in ways that stretch me way beyond my comfort zone. It began with a trip to my parents’ house on Monday night. . . which led to a nostalgic journey down memory lane. My folks are in the process of moving, which means a major clean-out and downsize of accumulated stuff. My mom handed me a church directory from 1968 or 1969. My dad was pastoring St. Mark’s Reformed Episcopal Church in Jenkintown, PA at the time. I was 11 or twelve years old, in sixth grade, and had completed the Confirmation Class. A small group of us (me and all the rest girls as I remember it) must have had our Confirmation service at about the same time the church directory was being put together. As I paged through the directory I ran across this picture of me kneeling at the communion rail during the service. I remember that night so well. It brought back the memory of receiving my gold-embossed red-covered Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. There was my name inscribed on the cover. It sits with my Bible and devotional books and I still use it from time to time.
The day after, on Tuesday, I watched the unfolding news coming from Brussels. Another terrorist attack.
Then yesterday, I received my regular copy of Critique magazine from Ransom Fellowship and my friend Denis Haack. In his always challenging “Editor’s Note,” Denis wrote a short piece entitled “A Prayer for Terrorists.” Denis asks, “How does one pray in an age marred by terrorism? What words do I use, and for what do I ask?” And so I read on. He points readers to a prayer that he’s found helpful from The Book of Common Prayer. And so I picked up that red personalized copy that I had been thinking about earlier in the week. I read these words. . . .
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And then there’s today. . . Holy Thursday. . . the day that we commemorate the Last Supper Christ shared with his disciples. . . and then his journey to the garden where he prayed the will of the Father for his disciples in all times and all places (John 17). The will of the Father. . . . and when it comes to the will of the Father in regards to our enemies Jesus said this: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Like I said, this week’s been a perfect storm. The sixth-grade me was praying in that photo. I know that the older me must pray as Jesus desires me to pray. . . both the how and the for. . . no matter how difficult. . . all these years later.
Perhaps that’s something we should all find worth pondering today.