“Be constant in prayer,” writes Paul to the Ephesians, and to the Thessalonians he says, “Pray incessantly.”
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Praying for others and for the transformation of this world in Christ is the imperative of the Gospel. “For we live now,” writes Paul to the Thessalonians, “so long as you stand in the Lord.”
There is a distinct sense in which Paul recognizes that his own life is contingent upon the faithfulness of others. That through the prayers and faithfulness of the Thessalonians, God enables the witness of Paul to continue and thrive. God works through prayer. When we pray for the well being of others, God moves. God deepens our empathy and ability to extend care, and the peace of God which passes all understanding mysteriously moves about the world to transform those for whom we pray. We too are transformed by this prayerful orientation, as God in Christ draws all of us nearer to one another. The felt gap of time or space, ethnicity or belief, are transcended along the Way, as we begin to recognize our shared nature in Jesus Christ.
Our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan and Haiti are suffering. We are often at a loss when we learn of such pain and turmoil. We feel disabled, unable to heal wounds that we know need to be mended. In our despair, however, we often do nothing, and we find ourselves more consumed by what we cannot do than we are the plight of the suffering.
As Christians, however, there is always something we can do. Whether or not we have money to give or whether we live nearby or far away from the tribulation at hand, we always have something to offer. In fact, we have received all that is needed to give: the hope of Jesus Christ.
I invite you, therefore, to make time today, tomorrow, and the next, and each day that follows thereafter, to pray for the people of Afghanistan, for those who are suffering at the hands of the violent, and for the violent who are inflicting suffering on others. Each are hurting. All are suffering. The wounded have a great tendency to wound. Let us pray for the healing of all.
For the people of Haiti, let us pray also for healing and strength, for the courage to find unity amidst devastation.
As an Episcopal Church, we are privileged to be part of a network of people who work directly with refugees fleeing places like Afghanistan, as well as those who are recovering natural disasters, as in Haiti. The Episcopal Church’s reach is both wide and deep. A portion of your tithes and offerings in St. Michael’s goes to support this good work. However, if you would like to support any of these efforts directly, I encourage you to visit episcopalrelief.org. There you will find more information about how the Episcopal Church is working to support those who are suffering throughout the world and how you can directly support these efforts.
My encouragement to you this day, however, whether you are able to contribute financially or not, is to offer to God the prayer that Christ has given us to pray, with particular intention for the people of Afghanistan and Haiti. May we all learn to hallow the Name of God, to seek the will of the God, to forgive our enemies, and for us all to be delivered from evil.
Let the prayer of Christ flow through us this day, that we might become the prayer of Christ for this hurting world. Let us pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.