Posted by: Titus Presler | September 23, 2009

A Prayer for Reconciliation

O God, you entered the pain of humankind in Christ Jesus, in whom you were reconciling the world to yourself: Bend our wills, we pray, to rely on your reconciling presence in the resentments and enmities we suffer in families, communities, churches and nations.  Nourish our confidence that in your compassion all our wounds are vulnerable to healing.  Build our courage to address broken relationships with those from whom we are alienated.  Deepen our capacity to listen, repent and forgive.  As we journey toward your wholeness, form us in the ministry of reconciliation you have entrusted to us, that others may hear your appeal to be reconciled with God and neighbor through the cross and resurrection of our friend and savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

– Titus Presler

Reconciliation is how the apostle Paul sums up the mission of Christ, what Jesus was sent into the world to do, and the mission of the Christian community, what we are sent to be and do in the world: “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5.19).  Reconciliation needs to be central in our vision, our work, and our prayer.  Amid the growing missional consensus around reconciliation, and the prominence of reconciliation initiatives in many post-conflict contexts such as South Africa, Rwanda and Northern Ireland, it is striking how few set prayers are available specifically about reconciliation.

In traditional language:

O God, thou didst enter the pain humankind in Christ Jesus, in whom thou wast reconciling the world to thyself: Bend our wills, we pray, to rely on thy reconciling presence in the resentments and enmities we suffer in families, communities, churches and nations.  Nourish our confidence that in thy compassion all our wounds are vulnerable to healing.  Build our courage to address broken relationships with those from whom we are alienated.  Deepen our capacity to listen, repent and forgive.  As we journey toward thy wholeness, form us in the ministry of reconciliation thou hast entrusted to us, that others may hear thy appeal to be reconciled with God and neighbor through the cross and resurrection of our friend and savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Responses

  1. Thanks, John. Judicial courts have in recent years made considerable investments in mediation services as an alternative to adversarial court proceedings. Meanwhile, have we in the churches made a comparable commitment to bringing reconciliation to the center of ministerial formation, whether in parishes or seminaries? I think not. Reconciliation is sometimes addressed in pastoral counseling courses, but the scope of pastoral counseling in recent years has been severely restricted by concerns about liability and (ironically!) litigation. So, as you say, priests are viewed as purveyors of many things, but not typically as catalysts for reconciliation. Meanwhile, despite Christ being, in the words of the BCP, “our only Mediator and Advocate,” the church has pretty much relinquished “mediation” to secular “mediation services.”

  2. I think the reason we have so few prayers like this is that we rarely think of God’s love while we are busy feeling hate for a fellow human being. We rarely call a priest during a dispute. Thank you for this fine piece of work.

    Blessings,

    John+


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