"For peace between nations"
"For peace between people"
"God of mercy, hold us in love"
These words are words that we sing every time we sing Marty Haugen's Holden Evening Prayer. Holden Evening Prayer is one of my most favorite worship settings. I honestly love the poetry of words that is in this service. As we heard the news of the events unfolding in Paris last night, a seminary classmate and friend posted the above words as her Facebook status. And ever since, I have been singing these words to myself.
Our God is indeed a God of mercy and love. God wants us to show love to one another especially in the midst of heartache. What if instead of blaming each other, we stood together...like people all over the world stood together on the days following 9-11? What if instead of sowing hate, we sowed seeds of love? What if we were instruments of God's peace in the world? My friend Ben, as he lay in the Haitian rubble, uttered the words "God's peace to us we pray". Then moments later, Ben died in that rubble. Ben's words remind me that God has the power to bring about God's peace. So may God bring out God's peace and may we also be instruments of God's love in the world.
As I think about this horrific tragedy, I can't help but think of those who lost loved ones last night. But I also am reminded of those who have taught me to love and to show God's love to the world. My friend Laura is now laying in a hospital bed at a hospice center as she continues to fight her cancer.. From day one, Laura was one of the kindest, most welcoming, most loving women that I have ever met. She has taught me what it means to be gracious. I also think of my own mother who, even though she has lived my whole life with a mental illness, is one of the most welcoming, kind, loving women as well. My mom literally would give the shirt off of her back to someone in need. These two women along with many others have shown me the power of what it means to sow love rather than hatred. "For perfect love casts out fear!"
Yes, God's perfect love casts out fear. Look at how many times the words "Do not be afraid" appear in the Bible. God calls us to trust in him and to cling to the promise that God's perfect love does indeed cast out fear.
I understand that those words can be hard to cling too especially in the midst of deep darkness, but God's light and love shine in the midst of that darkness. When I was in college and also in seminary, I was in a play production of "The Diary of Anne Frank." Anne and her family hid from the Nazis. Day in and day out, they fought for their lives. Eventually they were found by the Nazis. Yet at the very end of Anne's diary, she wrote "Despite everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." Oh Anne, may we remember your words today and every day.
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love."-Francis of Assissi