Reading: 1 Peter 1:13-16
herefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Today marks the beginning of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Here is a prayer for Assembly which I offered as Moderator:
There is a story, Father, ancient and strange,
of a scattered people, gathering, settling,
on a plain in the land of Shinar.
They plan a city; they plan a tower;
a tower that reaches to the sky.
And then, Father, we are told that the people,
who once spoke with a single voice,
were now cursed with a multitude of languages.
They could no longer understand one another;
The great plans ground to a halt;
Confusion frustrated all their attempts;
The city, the tower, were abandoned;
The people – scattered, divided – vanished from view.
In this puzzling story, Father,
do we catch an echo of ourselves?
For even when sharing a common tongue, Father,
We confess that we often fail to understand one another.
Words mean one thing to one of us, differing things to another.
Differing assumptions, differing agendas,
Mean we have trouble even listening to one another,
let alone truly understanding what is meant.
In the Babel of misunderstanding,
Our great plans grind to a halt.
Confusion frustrates our attempts.
Aspirations are abandoned; passions worn down.
Exasperated, we give up on our plans.
Offended, we give up on one another.
We divide, we scatter.
Someday, perhaps, will we too will vanish from view?
Father, as we are united in our common love of Jesus Christ,
So unite us in our understanding.
Help us not only to listen to one another,
but to truly hear what is truly being said.
Give us, we pray, the gift of interpretation,
The ability to read one another’s subtitles,
To glimpse the heart behind the words,
That we might build not a tower,
But that we might build up one another,
that we might build up the Body of Christ.
Speak through us, that through one another’s words,
We might hear your Word;
And, with your help and guidance, Father,
Build your kingdom together. Amen.