If we are going to keep praying for reconciliation among the races; if we are going to keep praying for reconciliation between hetero culture and the LGBTQ community; if we are going to keep praying for reconciliation among differing religious paradigms; if we are going to keep praying for reconciliation among nations; then I wonder if we should start by asking for help with listening.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:18-20)
God, who so graciously speaks to us and is present to us,
Help us to be present to you, and to your people.
We confess that we are distracted and noisy people.
We confess that we have avoided quieting ourselves before you.
We confess that we’ve been afraid of what you might say to us.
We confess that we are often so busy speaking that all we hear is our own opinions.
We turn now to you, knowing that you are love, and that love is what you are always telling us, even when you are gently correcting us.
We need gentle correction now.
We confess that we have not listened to our neighbors.
We confess that we have not made time and space to hear their stories and concerns.
We confess that we have allowed our differences to put us off.
We confess that by not engaging, we have stifled love.
Show us how to listen attentively to, and love our neighbors near and far.
Show us how to open our ears and hearts to those of different cultures, races, backgrounds, belief systems.
Show us how to embody the mission of Christ: to prepare a great banquet and invite everyone to feast.
May we know your voice.
May we make space in our lives to hear your voice and do your good work.
May we follow the promptings of your Spirit without hesitation.
May we overcome our fears of shame, and our reluctance to experience awkward moments.
May we live love loudly, and listen quietly.
May our hearts be big enough to hold the stories we hear.
Be near to us as we do the work of quieting our souls (1), that we may listen and learn from those around us.
(1) Psalm 131:
O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.