Monday, September 23, 2013

What Does Peace Look Like To You?

Pseudo-Paul is advising young Timothy again in this letter we return to today. Yet we find the advice relevant not only to our time but to today, the day after the International Day of Prayer for Peace.

Praying and peace go together the author says.
I think we’d agree, if only because it sometimes seems praying is all we can do for peace.      I don’t think this advice means, “When all else fails, pray.” I hear very specific instructions.

What do you hear? 

Which do you find harder to do, pray for ALL people or ‘kings’ and those in authority?

Christian Eberhart points out that the author of this advice uses FOUR nuanced words for prayer.
One is an appeal for a particular need - δεη`σεις which we read “supplications”
Another is a general word that occurs in petitions - προσε`υχας
Then there is one for an URGENT and BOLD request - `εντευ`ζες
The last is an Expression of gratitude - ευ`χαριστι`ας

Which do you think of for prayer? the way defined?

This Advice-Giver says we are to use ALL imaginable forms of prayer.1

Now our prayers are starting to sound more like work than what we do when we can’t do anything else. Eberhart also reminds us that praying for leadership then and now is different, yet no less commanded. & Certainly no less necessary.

THEN:  Emperor worship didn’t begin in Roman empire until Julius Caesar replaced their elected consuls with single Emperor rule. After his assassination, he was proclaimed ‘DIVINE’ and thus began the worship of the Emperor, aka Divine Cult.

By 1st century, Emperor worship had become one thing that unified the diversity found in the many nations conquered by Rome. It was a stabilizing force. We may not agree with the Roman idea of ‘peace’ but this was part of it.
SO, for our Advice-Giver to command prayer FOR the emperor rather than TO the emperor was more radical than this verse sounds. He is implying that the Emperor is NOT divine but dependent on the guidance and mercy of everyone else.2

NOW: certainly praying TO the emperor was more than a problem for 1st century Christians.
What do you find hard about praying FOR our leaders today?

I read Jane Ferguson recall that for many American Christians, we’ve lived a quiet and peaceable life for too long. She says if we lived in real dignity according to Christ, we’d be far from peaceable in the traditional sense and would be turning society upside-down.3

“Praying for ALL “calls us to consider the radical implications of sharing God’s desire for the salvation of ALL.”4

Let’s let God guide us right now in defining PRAYER for ALL in terms of what we’ve heard.
How should we pray?
SLIDE click in list.
1. For particular needs
2. With BOLD requests
3. With Thanksgiving

If we begin to pray in this way, God stretches us to pray for our enemies and those we know personally and dislike.

Is it ever hard?
    Anna Hooker story: Sunday after 9/11, when the Education Minister was scheduled to her 2nd year of seminary...a bit uncertain of herself!
    Prayer concerns for 9/11 victims, with mentions of those people in PW county who were known to the congregation.
Anna stands up and says, “Don’t forget to pray for the people who hijacked the planes!”There was complete QUIET!
Some might say it was too soon. But it wasn’t, she was right! We ARE to pray for our ‘enemies’ - known and unknown, even when it’s hard.

    There’s a prayer in Prayers for Planetary Pilgrims
“Caught between pain and pardon, I wish to choose Jesus' way of pardon. . He prayed the impossible prayer, This prayer is one I now desire to make my own, “Father, forgive him, her, them, for they know not what they do.”
And it ends,
“O Infinite Sea of Mercy, make this unworthy servant the channel of your gift of pardon, that I also may be healed as your forgiveness passes through me to others.”5

What happens to us when we pray this way?

I believe God can make us able to pray this way if we can try, if we ask for help.

It begins when we pray with thanksgiving.

Have you every felt such gratitude that it spilled over to those around you?

There’s another story of Rostropovich, who had been exiled from the Soviet Union in 1970 and stripped of his citizenship for expressing his support for artistic freedom. He was a cellist. And when he played a concert in Chicago, mesmerizing the audience, he stood up at the end and kissed his cello. Then he hugged and kissed the surprised conductor and then the cello section and almost everyone in the orchestra.
That's living GRATITUDE6 until it spills over.

Then how shall we pray?
    With bold requests?
        With specific requests.
           For friends, for enemies
        Even for those we have to ask God’s help to even include in our prayers.

All this is the real WORK of prayer.
Prayer like this is how we come to love like Jesus.
    Early Church Father, John Chrysostom wrote, “No one can feel hared towards those for who he prays.”

Can their be any better way to Work for Peace then to Pray for Peace?

Let us begin this work of peace-making by peace-praying today.

Here you see 13 candles surrounding the candle of peace.
Setting up such a number of candles brings home the fact that each one represents a life taken by violence and yes, One candle is for the shooter.

There are numerous more candles to be lit.

1 and above list Christian A. Eberhart 9/22/13 1 Tim. 2:1-7
2 ibid Eberhart
3 Jane Anne Ferguson, pastoral, Feasting on the word Yr. C, Bartlett, Taylor, eds (Louisville:WJK,2010)88
4 ibid 88
5 both quotes Edward Hays Prayers for A Planetary Pilgrim (Leavenworth:Forest of Peace Pub, 1989) 176
6 Wm. ‘Matt’ Matthew quoting John Buchanan Feasting on the world Yr. c, homiletical. P. 89


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