Well, that was rough—I have been sick for so long, it’s weird being back in the office. I almost feel like I’ve woken from a nightmare, still trying to find my grip on what’s real.
I have a couple of things to mention. We are continuing our Vigils for Peace and Reconciliation tonight at 7:30. This is a short service, of 20 minutes or so, just a time for prayer for our nation and it’s violence and polarization.
And speaking of prayer—that’s the subject of our Gospel this Sunday, and the points of the texts are twofold—first the faithfulness of God and God’s ongoing presence in this world, and secondly our own humility before God. This week Jesus tells a story of a religious leader who prays, “Thank you, God, that I am not like those other people—thieves, rogues, and adulterers.” And you can imagine a very pious man thanking God that he had escaped from those traps. You might even think that’s what we ought to pray to be like. But Jesus says that we should pray like the sinner, who prays in secret, “Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner.”
Why? Well, we could pray at our vigil: “Dear God, we thank you that we are not like Somalia, or Iran, or Syria, that we have stable elections, the peaceful transition of power, and the world’s healthiest economy.” But would that really be the prayer we need to offer? Similarly, in our own lives, we could thank God for all the ways we have not failed, but instead we should pray for God’s mercy and grace to be with us in the places we have failed.
This is not to say we should not give God thanks for what is good about us and about our lives. But when we pray as Jesus teaches, then we will pray understanding that what we have we have because of God’s bountiful and wonderful grace. That grace helps us recognize one another as equals—because before God, all others things pass away.