Gracious God, the words of your apostle Paul ring in our hearts and we pray they are true. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” We pray these words ring true because in the world around us, surrounding us in our daily lives, we are bombarded with the cynicism and hardships of the world.
An epidemic rages on as death tolls rise and healthcare-workers scramble to keep it at bay. Wars drag on in cycles of power-mongering and violence. Revenge and retribution are viewed as signs of strength while reconciliation and humility are trampled underfoot. And, playing politics often takes priority to effective resolutions and meaningful change for the betterment of all. These are the images and stories that we encounter on a daily basis. These are the stories that fill our screens, these are the stories that burden our minds and our hearts, and these are the stories we comment on with one another because they are our common story.
So, this morning, we pray that our hearts might not be hardened, O God. We pray that these common stories of destructive happenings in our world do not become the primary narrative we know and share. May we, in the midst of these stories, lift up a trust in the power of reconciliation and peace and may we dwell in expectation that war can and will end. May we point to the immeasurable power that grace and resurrection has in this world. May we remember that we believe in a God whose creative Spirit dwells with and among us – And, it is because of your love for the world, O God, that cynicism will not reign above joy; that gentleness and love will not fall victim to pride and greed; and that forgiveness, justice and peace will be experienced by all.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, [may we] think about these things [, O God].” And live into them boldly. Amen.
Submitted by Rev. JC Cadwallader, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington DC.