Monday, April 9, 2018
Prayer of St. Francis take one
The above prayer is attributed to St. Francis and is viewed as the saint of animals and ecology. He is said to have preached an entire sermon to birds, including inviting them to confess. With Earth Day coming up, the environmental crisis continuing, and our uncertainty about what/how we might respond in ways that will make a difference, the prayer of St. Francis seems a great place to begin in living our Easter-ing faith.
It is easy to rush and race past the first line, "Lord make me an instrument of they peace." Notice that first off, the prayer is asking, expecting, even inviting God to do something in our lives. How often do we expect God to show up in the course of the day? We might say God is everywhere, but we don't always live that way. There is the old joke about the church and the bar that sat next to each other and had an adversarial relationship. The church people prayed something would happen to the bar...the bar own scoffed sarcastically in response. Until one day, when the bar was struck by lightening. There was a law suit by the bar owner...at which time the church pleaded it's innocence for any involvement while the bar owner was adamant that the church be held accountable. The judge eventually said, "I am not quite sure what exactly to do, but it is clear that the bar owner believes in prayer while the church people do not."
How many times do we sometimes hold too tightly to the adage, "Pray as if it is all up to God and act as if it is all up to you." The problem both the joke and adage point out is that we, as humans, want to be completely in charge and control. The prayer starts off with the old fashion word, "Lord". To be sure it drips with sexism and is tied to a time of oppression. Lord is a claim that someone is at the center of your life. Or as Tillich contended that no one was an atheist, because we all worship something or have something at the center of our lives. While it might be money or relationship, we all have some part of our life that we prioritize. Who is "Lord" for you? Is it your investment broker or the person who organizes your golf league or the clerk at your favorite store or a teacher?
If it starts by acknowledging who is at the center, the second two words of the prayer, "make me" reminds us that we are being molded by forces in our lives. Nature has an impact on us. Scientists say that our relationships do influence, leave a lasting impression, on our DNA. We are who we are because of who/what we love!!
But St. Francis wanted to made, shaped, fashioned and formed into an instrument of peace. I used to play the trombone...very poorly play the trombone. The thing about an instrument is that it is designed for one purpose (to be played) and can produce (within a wide, but also limited range) a certain sound. I could never sound like a clarinet or drum. Yet, both the clarinet and drum, are also instruments. Yet, both the clarinet and drum, produce sound. There are similarities and distinct differences. The point is that there are MANY ways to be an instrument, but the sound we want to make is one of peace.
How are you letting/opening yourself to God to move/blow through your life sounding the spirit of peace?
May that question sit and simmer in your life this day and offer you more than just a trace of God's grace.