Archive for June, 2009

Healing Hate

June 28, 2009

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded him. 1 John 2:9-11

Lord, we look to Iran and see that people who we feared and disparaged have more in common with our own hopes and dreams than we once thought possible. As we observe their struggle, help us to examine our willingness to label others, to judge without understanding, to fear those who are different, and to separate our world into “us” and “them”.

Hate isolates us from others, helping us to ignore those in need. Hate feeds our anger and fear, enabling others to manipulate our emotions and actions.  We fail to look within and hold ourselves accountable, preferring to  shift blame “to those people”– democrat or republican, young or old, rich or poor, immigrant or foreigner, white or black — who are our current target.

Help us Lord to move past hate.  Help us to see those in need and respond with compassion and empathy.  Whether talking to neighbors or listening to political leaders or media reports, help us to challenge the simple solutions, personalized attacks, accusations, and catch-phrases, that only serve to inflame and mislead rather than inform.  Help us to reach out to one another in respect and in love.  Help us each to take on the responsibility of working to build a country, and a world, that better reflects your grace.

Help us O Lord.


Cynicism Leads Us Astray

June 21, 2009

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. . . . Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.   The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:3, 7-9.

Lord, throughout our country and in the media there are those who, with insolent self righteousness, do not hesitate to attack the virtues, values, and sincerity of others.  We scoff at efforts to reach out to others, dismiss empathetic expressions as weakness, and question those who would be honest about our history.  As we watch the struggles of others for freedom we seek to condemn and control, looking for domestic political advantage.  We challenge new approaches and policies as too little, not enough, or as destined to fail yet do not offer alternatives.  Mocking others has become a form of entertainment.

Our cynicism keeps us from hope, from looking for and finding the path you would have us follow.  As one pundit observed, “Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try.” (Peggy Noonan).  Lord give us the courage to try.  Help us to recognize you in acts of  kindness, forgiveness, patience and love. Like King David, help us to admit our weakness before both you and others, and seek your help.  Strengthen us to do the work you have put before us and teach us to care for each other.  Help us to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Ro. 12:12

In Jesus’ name we pray.


Fear Cannot Be Our Guide

June 14, 2009

Do not call conspiracy everything these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. Is. 8:12

Lord, in our fast and noisy world it can be hard to discern which way to go. Many of the loudest voices feed our fears.  We fear enemies both real and imagined. We fear change. We fear a future we can neither predict nor control.  To calm our fears we demand immediate and simplistic fixes, forgoing the effort to understand the complex realities before us.  We turn away from wisdom.  Full of fear, we close our doors and fail to reach out to help others in our communities.  We turn away from love.  Fearing what we cannot understand, we focus on the close reality of our possessions. We fail to hear your call; we fail to seek your presence.

Yet you O Lord are with us always, ready to strengthen us and help us. (Is. 41:10) Help us to move away from our fears and hear your voice.  Let us learn to say with the psalmist, “I sought the Lord and he answered me;  he delivered me from all my fears.” Ps. 34:4  Help us to try new directions, to face our fears and speak against the voices that would mislead us. Help us to trust in you, and guide us O Lord.


Violence Is Not The Answer

June 7, 2009

Do not judge or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? . . . You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Mt. 7:1-5

Lord, in a week where a man who was a husband, father, grandfather, friend, and physician was murdered in church, help us to see that violence is not the answer.

As we try to move forward through the difficult issues of our day, help us to look at the full humanity of others and be aware that we cannot fully understand your will.

As we each work out our own salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), help us to respect the struggles and judgments of others whose trials are many and different than ours.  Where our judgments and values clash, help us to trust simply in the knowledge that some day you will judge the living and the dead, and to resist the temptations of self-righteousness, and of judging or demonizing others.

As your servant, Dr. Martin Luther King, taught us: “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Lord, let your light shine into our lives and deliver us from darkness.  Help us each to love despite our differences, and teach us to forgive.  Lead us, O Lord.