A ministry of reconciliation

The lectionary readings for today are Malachi 3.1–4 (or Baruch 5); Philippians 1.3–11 and Luke 3.1–6. I am going to ignore the selection for today and read Luke 1.39–80 (in two parts) instead. One of the problems (probably for quite a few churches) as Advent  advances is that the church schedule is given increasingly to nativity, carol services and all-age events so that a serious reading of the Gospel text becomes all but impossible. It is not that I am against the carol services and such like. Frankly, I quite like them but they do put pressure on the schedule. At Didsbury Baptist Church, we have our all-age festival service on the fourth Sunday of advent so we would not get to hear so much of Luke 1 if I did not sneak a bit more of it into the earlier weeks of Advent. This morning, then, we will hear both the benedictus and the magnificat. I am particularly fond of the closing words of Zechariah’s prophecy:

By the tender mercy of our God
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1.78–9)

The conflicts all over the world today bear witness to the fact that we still have a lot to learn about the way of peace. Perhaps true peace will allude us for as long as we believe that violence and war have the capacity to solve the world’s problems. I think we still need a reconciling ministry like that of John the Baptist ‘to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord’ (Luke 1.17).

International Day of Prayer for Peace

Haiti, 2004. Photo: Paul Jeffrey / ACT

Haiti, 2004. Photo: Paul Jeffrey / ACT

Today (21 September) is the World Council of Churches’ International Day of Prayer for Peace. It coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.

Yesterday, Didsbury Baptist Church, along with many others, observed Peacemaking Sunday and made use of the resources provided by the Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches Working Together.

The following prayer of intercession is taken from the booklet “Imagine peace“, a collection of Bible meditations and other texts on biblical aspects of peace and overcoming violence.

Lord, we pray for
Peace for those who weep in silence
Peace for those who cannot speak
Peace when all hope seems to disappear.

In the midst of rage, of violence and disappointment,
In the midst of wars and destruction of the earth,
Lord, show us your light in the darkness.

Lord, we pray for
Peace for those who raise their voices to demand it,
Peace when there are many who do not wish to hear of it,
Peace as we find the way to justice.

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