A Collect for Peace
Most holy God, the source of all good desires, all right judgments, and all just works: Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, so that our minds may be fixed on the doing of your will, and that we, being delivered from the fear of all enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through the mercies of Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen. (BCP 123)
Peace which the world cannot give
The psalmist laments that “all this has come upon us” and prays to the Lord for help:
All this has come upon us; *
yet we have not forgotten you,
nor have we betrayed your covenant.
Our heart never turned back, *
nor did our footsteps stray from your path;
Though you thrust us down into a place of misery, *
and covered us over with deep darkness.
If we have forgotten the Name of our God, *
or stretched out our hands to some strange god,
Will not God find it out? *
for he knows the secrets of the heart.
Indeed, for your sake we are killed all the day long; *
we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Awake, O Lord! why are you sleeping? *
Arise! do not reject us for ever.
Why have you hidden your face *
and forgotten our affliction and oppression?
We sink down into the dust; *
our body cleaves to the ground.
Rise up, and help us, *
and save us, for the sake of your steadfast love. (Psalm 44:17-26)
In this lament, two “generations” of the children of Israel have expressed their desire for God’s peace in the middle of difficulty and in the face of enemies.
The Jews, who had prayed the Psalms in worship for at least 1,000 years before the time of Christ, were joined in that song by the Christians who, some 2,000 years ago, retained the Psalms in their daily worship and taught them to Gentile converts who had begun to follow the Way.
It’s sobering to think that the Psalms have been sung, until this week, by Christians in Mosul for 1,700 of the last 2,000 years.
Abraham and his children for ever
Another of the songs that Christians sing in their evening worship is the Magnificat, or the Song of Mary (BCP 119).
In the Magnificat, Mary’s words echo those of Hannah from 1 Samuel 2. Both women look to God to “show the strength of his arm” and to “scatter the proud in their conceit.”
Luke’s Gospel (where the Magnificat comes from) and his Book of Acts are focused on the spread of the church throughout the world.
In his telling, Mary’s song broadens in scope from God lifting up the “lowly” and looks toward the glorious day when all will be free to worship God without fear, “Abraham and his children for ever.”
It is also sobering this week to realize that the children of Abraham — Jews, Christians, and Muslims — continue to pray for peace for themselves in difficulty but to live as enemies of each other.
Prayer for Mission
O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 124)
Though we Christians pray “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” our prayer is that all men and women everywhere may love and serve the God and Father of all in peace.
All this has come upon us; may we all turn back to God.