A few weeks ago, John Hamer (from the Toronto-based Beyond the Walls inclusive online congregation of Community of Christ) reached out to ask if I would be interested in contributing a pre-recorded prayer to a June 12th “millennial prayer service” focused on Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles. The denomination describes its Enduring Principles as follows:
Our Enduring Principles define the essence, heart, and soul of our faith community. They describe the personality of our church as expressed throughout the world.
Both Beyond the Walls and the Enduring Principles played important roles in my decision to join Community of Christ, so I was more than happy to accept. I was especially glad that I could do so with a pre-recorded segment, since I would be attending a church camp that weekend (I imagine I’ll be writing more on this later).
Rather than assign principles to participants, the Beyond the Walls coordinators let us request for our preferred choices first come first serve. The principle of Grace and Generosity has been particularly important to me. The official wording of this principle goes like this:
- God’s grace, especially as revealed in Jesus Christ, is generous and unconditional.
- Having received God’s generous grace, we respond generously and graciously receive the generosity of others.
- We offer all we are and have to God’s purposes as revealed in Jesus Christ.
- We generously share our witness, resources, ministries, and sacraments according to our true capacity.
I wasn’t particularly speedy in responding to John’s email, but I was glad to hear that no one had laid claim before me. In fact, John wrote that:
I’ve gotten 8 responses, and everyone has gotten their top pick. … That’s a remarkable coincidence, and it’s providential in the sense that everyone is getting to speak / pray about a topic that they are most inspired by.
Unlike many believers, I absolutely believe in coincidences, but that doesn’t stop me from being pleased when happy coincidences arise.
Because of the aforementioned church camp (and a subsequent visit to family), I have only just now watched the service, and it’s wonderful (despite my presence):
For what it’s worth, here’s the text of the prayer that I offered. Knowing that Beyond the Walls provides captioning in English, French, and Spanish (the three main languages of Community of Christ), I took the opportunity to provide both French and English texts to Beyond the Walls—partly to save their translators some time, but mostly to see if I still had the French chops to do so! I’ll only provide the English here, though:
Let us pray.
God who lends us every breath (see Mosiah 1:53), we have so much trouble understanding this generous gift. We human beings are so often certain that we have ourselves earned and are, by our actions, deserving of the good things that come to us. Give us the humility we need to recognize how much we owe to your grace. Despite our pride, we also manage to convince ourselves that we deserve nothing—that we are worth nothing. Show us how much your grace affirms our inestimable worth. In giving us humility, show us how much we are capable of doing good; in affirming our worth, help us to recognize that of others. May we receive your grace in order to grow our own generosity.
God who “sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45, NRSV), if grace is your sun that rises on us all, “generous[ly] and unconditional[ly]” (Enduring Principles), what do we call this flood that seems to be rising in our world? If it is difficult to understand how you pour out your grace on all humanity despite our mistakes, it is even more difficult to understand the wars, the shootings, and the hate that fall on us despite your great love. We do not know why the “protection of [your] grace” (D&C 135:3) does not extend to the prevention of these tragedies, but we commit to using our own generosity to protect our neighbor.
God who took upon Godself weak human flesh, we are grateful that you choose us to accomplish your work, despite our weakness. Thanks to the stories of Paul and Alma (among many others), we know that you are capable of transforming those who oppress into those who represent your love for all. We know that if Paul and Alma could set aside their power to serve you—and your children—in humility, we can do the same. We know that if Paul and Alma could experience such a transformation, there is still hope for those who oppress in our world today. However, while waiting for this redemption, we feel called to stand against oppression. Help us to love these people even as we condemn their actions. This seems impossible to us, but your grace surpasses all human understanding.
God who is “worthy of our worship” (Basic Beliefs), it is not power “beyond imagination” that makes you worthy of it, but love. It is not our greatness that makes us worthy of your grace, but yours. It is not our fear that makes us praise you but our gratitude. Help us to fill the world with this love, this grace, this gratitude.
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