Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prayer for Peace at Christmas

"Protect me oh Lord for my boat is     so small
Protect me oh Lord for my boat is       so small
My boat is so small and your sea is      so wide
Protect me oh Lord."
  --Breton Fisherman's Prayer

Lord—your disciples told the story of that scary time when they were in the boat...and the water got choppy and the wind blew hard...and the waves got high...and they were afraid they would drown. And they wrote that Jesus came—walking on the water—whispering one word: Peace. And the winds died down and the water became calm and the boat made it safely to shore.

Lord—the water still gets choppy. And sometimes the waves just get too high...and, like those other disciples, we too get scared.

So here—where it’s quiet and all seems so peaceful—we know better. We confess that we don’t feel like we are safe and secure from all alarms. For some of us the water is wide and the waves are just too choppy. Some of us are afraid of what might happen to our little boats—or our child’s boat and all those we love. Some of us are fearful for the future. And so here in this safe place—we lift up our fears to you.

Could you do for us what you did long ago for those disciples? Could you bring us peace—here--where we are? Could you calm down our insides? Can you give us enough faith that we will know we are not alone.

Outside these walls—up and down these streets and out to Interstates to this whole country—and world—the waves get mighty high sometimes. Is it too much to ask you to do for us what you did for your disciples long ago? But not only for us—we ask for your peace for all those out there. In Afghanistan—not only our forces—but all those who live there and have known nothing their whole lives but fear and confusion and heartache. Could you do for them what you did for those disciples years ago?

As Christmas comes much too fast—so many today dread it’s coming. Some have lost someone precious. Some face enormous problems. Some worry about many things. The waves are just too high...and those boats feel like they won’t make it. Could you do for them what you did for those disciples years ago?

So Lord Jesus—walk across our choppy waters. Whisper peace to every troubled heart. And may that peace that really does pass all understanding—touch us and all those others out there. Leave no one out for we all have a common need.

We ask it all in the strong name of that Prince whose name we know as Peace. Amen.

(The artist who painted this picture is H Qi, a Chinese artist. He currently resides in the United States and He studied at Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing Art Institute and Hamburg (Germany) Art Institute. His work has been shown around the world at Universities at Cambridge and Oxford and Yale and Princeton and many other places. His unique style has been featured in many leading magazines and newspapers. He is committed to the artistic creation of modern Chinese Christian art. I first saw his work at Regent's Park College in Oxford and was struck by its power and  beauty.)

I wrote this prayer for an Advent service at the First Baptist Church, Clemson, South Carolina.


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