By Ron Harmon, Presiding Bishop
And when you do not cry to the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer to him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.
[Excerpted from sermon delivered at World Conference 2023]
I grew up in a small loving congregation in Lakewood Ohio. Here I experienced my first sense of true belonging where I could be myself without fearing rejection or ridicule.
It is where I first discovered I had gifts to share, first given opportunity to serve, first saw all of life as a gift from God, first envisioned a larger world beyond my family and congregation in need of hope and healing, and where I first experienced the joy of being known and loved in Christ. It changed the way I saw myself, others, and the world around me. It changed my heart forever.
While we may be familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan, we don’t know much about the Samaritan nor much about the priest or Levite. We know they chose to pass by the injured man on the roadside. I am less interested in attaching motives to these three individuals than I am in understanding the impulse behind the Samaritan’s decision to not play it safe and risk compassionate action.
It is this divine, disruptive impulse that nudges us dangerously close to the heart of God. I use the word dangerous because this divine encounter is unsettling, disruptive, and life changing simultaneously. It becomes what Richard Foster describes as a deeper yet burning within that makes each choice to respond clearer, moving us to courageously share the generous love and peace of Jesus Christ.
I have experienced this change of heart as a willingness to make room for the Spirit to work in and through us. It is reflected in the first two lines of the Mission Prayer: God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
This takes courage when sometimes the world seems hostile to God’s movement of generous compassion and love. The temptation to withdraw is real at times. It is why we travel this journey together as communities of Christ.
“giving thanks to God…at all times and for everything” (Ephesians 5:20)
[Adapted from A 7-Day Guide to Gratitude by Diana Butler Bass]
Often, we feel we have to escape from everyday life to embrace the mysteries and blessings of God. But we don’t need to go far, we can look inside ourselves. The greatest gift is the one we most often take for granted: that we are alive. Take ten minutes today for silence. Sit somewhere you will not be disturbed and set a timer. Reflect on the words, “I am. We all are.”
What happened in the silence?
Did a sense of gratitude emerge in this exercise?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.