World in Prayer This Week – January 2, 2014
“And having been warned in dream not to return to Herod, they [the Wise Ones] left for their own country by another road.” Matthew 2:12 (NRSV)
God of dreams and desires, in this sacred season you reach to the world in rhythms beyond the rational. An angel comes to Mary, Elizabeth feels a child quicken within her, Joseph has a dream, and the Wise Ones follow a star.
We who worship at the altar of the linear and the rational easily dismiss these gentle beats of eternity and bombard the ancient stories with questions and analyses and doubts and thoughts. We empty the stories of their mystery. Caught in a desire to understand, we forget that you are known in ways beyond thinking. You are heard as much in silence as in speech. You are present in dreams and visions.
Draw us to quiet our hyperactive minds and rest in the quiet that opens a place for you deep within. Draw us to Sabbath rest; releasing what we so desperately want to control, setting aside what we are driven to accomplish, stopping our busyness with things that are important but not more important than seeking you. Remind us that we are human beings and not human doings.
We would sit with the ancient stories and mine their tender wisdom. With Mary we would receive the message of the angels, all the while arguing with ourselves that such beings do not exist… With Joseph we would receive our dreams as gifts from the place deep within where holy insight unfolds. With the Wise Ones we would look for the light that shines in the darkness and find our way to You once again.
The world has already forgotten about Christmas–a distant memory of a time too busy and filled with too much. In the stores Christmas is half price and the fireworks of the New Year have drowned out the sounds from the manger.
And the hungry are still hungry. The homeless are still homeless. The wars are still raging. The planet still cries out in need. The gap between the rich and the poor is an ever widening river. All that was broken before Christmas is still broken.
- In the Middle East violence boils over in Syria, Israel, Iraq and Yemen. The number of refugees increases daily.
- In Africa war wracks the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Sud Sudan. Hunger and disease run rampant.
- In Asia, Afghanistan, Burma-Myanmar and Pakistan all struggle with unrest, political and religious power struggles.
- The Philippines and Japan still struggle in the aftermath of disaster.
- The United States still argues about whether or not it is right to care for the poor.
But still… the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. This promise is renewed in us and for us and through us; the gift of the season is offered once again as a reminder that we are not alone, that our striving toward your dream for a world of shalom is not finally a pipe dream but a promise.
As we linger in the ancient stories for just a few more days, not quite ready to let go of the season, waiting for the gift of Epiphany which is your revealing once again, may we take courage for the work that is ours, rest for the journey that is ahead, sustenance that is found at the table where bread is broken and wine is freely poured. And finding in the home that you make in the world through the Christ, may we, like the Wise Ones of old, find our way home by another way; the way that is your way, the way that is shared by all people of faith, the way that is your Shalom.