22 September 2008

Prayer for Unity in the Midst of Difference

This prayer was offered the morning after a rigorously divisive debate at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. In recalling Scriptural commands to love God and neighbor, fellow student Douglas Grace reminded his classmates that our call to unity is greater than any perceived difference. A message especially alive and important in this year of denominational and national debates and votes.

I invite you to take the hand of the person next to you and to close your eyes. Take in a deep, loud breath – a breath by its very sound names the divine. A breath that is healing, sustaining and life-giving.

Creating, forgiving and affirming God, hear our prayers this morning. Many of us left this space last evening after lively and passionate debate; debate over issues that plagued your ancient children as much as their contemporaries – issues of justice, race, sexuality, equality, respect, liberation and independence; debate that raises sensitivities in some and perhaps, insensitivity from others. Debate and questioning which may result in frustration, hurt, anger, some not being heard or some feeling confused. Bring love, justice and peace to our collective communities and remind us of our ongoing bond here at Union and the commitment of respect, even within and among academic, theological or denominational difference. We have learned about tension and resistance; conquest and oppression; the Exodus; the phenomenon of oppression from an oppressed people; overall suffering and liberation – all from so many events and characters in our Bible. Let us unite around the common call to love our God and our neighbor. Help us to move beyond difference, beyond simple tolerance of the other, even beyond acceptance of the other, and into the ultimate of love; divine love that embodies each one of us! God of Wisdom, remind us that Paul still writes to us today that the opposite of fear is not righteousness, but love. Help us to see Your love in all of Your diverse creation. Guide us now, ancient and present God, this new day, as we learn from Isaiah about the creation of new heavens and a new earth; that former things shall not be remembered or come to mind, but all shall be glad and rejoice forever in what You, oh God, are creating: that of joy and of a people with whom You can delight!

And all of God’s people said, AMEN.

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