June 10, 2011 - A Prayer For Peace

 
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A Prayer for Peace
Prayer for Peace in Times of Division
 
Lord God, heavenly Father, as we struggle here below with the divisions among us, searching for peace among men, remind us daily of the peace of heaven purchased through the bloody death and triumphant resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit is one God, now and forever. (1023) (Treasury of Daily Prayer, © 2008, CPH) 
 
The Monday following Exaudi Sunday has the above Collect in the Treasury of Daily Prayer. The Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations has no “official prayer” which reflects its purpose in forming, but this could well be one which does the job. This month, as the 16 member congregations of the ACELC consider and vote on the first elected Board of Directors, the Board – Pro Tem thought it an excellent opportunity to reflect briefly on this collect in light of our purpose. We do so even as we pray that those who are elected, as well as all members of Synod, would keep such a prayer in mind as they daily carry on their vocations in these challenging days for Christ's Church on earth.
 
First, rightly acknowledging the Trinity in prayer, and addressing the Lord God as “Father,” sets Christ's Church and God's people apart from the world and all non-Christian religions on earth. Still, in the Church Militant there are many “divisions” among the large number covered under this broad umbrella. It is to such divisions that this prayer is directed to the One who alone calls and places us into His “one body” (Eph. 4:4f), where we are “searching for peace among men,” which is to say among all those who fit under this broad umbrella.
 
Second, confessing Him as “heavenly” reminds us that He is One who is Lord over all and is therefore “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all things that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). Here we are reminded that His power is at work in us, and thus He can accomplish even that among us which may seem impossible to us at any given moment in history. Thus this peace among men is possible when we are subservient to Him and His inerrant Word.
 
Third, although there are no divisions or conflicts within the Trinity, this collect, recognizing that we will always “struggle here below” with such divisions, brings to mind the words of Hebrews, shortly after the strong exhortation to not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together.” “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated” (Heb. 10:25, 32f). The word “struggle” refers to a contest, which fits nicely with St. Paul's reminder to the Ephesians: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 5:25).
 
Fourth, and finally, the prayer calls upon this One to “remind us daily of the peace of heaven purchased through the bloody death and triumphant resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.” St. Paul speaks eloquently of this peace in his letter to the Colossians: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19f).
 
It is the “blood of His cross” that gives and keeps us at peace with Him, and it is only that blood which will finally bring “peace among men.” And, just as He Himself had to suffer and shed His blood to earn that peace, so too the Church through the ages has had to suffer and shed its blood in holding fast to all that He included in His parting words to His apostles to “teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). St. Peter says we ought “not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” as you are standing firm while being “reproached for the name of Christ” (1 Pet. 4:12ff). It is for the purpose of standing firm, of holding fast, to the first objective of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod in its Constitution, Article III, that the ACELC has been formed and continues to exist. 
 
“The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall – 1. Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith…and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy.”
 
It is our sincere prayer that as we move ahead in our effort to support this chief objective of the Synod under the newly elected Board of Directors that others will join us in seeking to establish a broad-based, Synod-wide discussion of variances of doctrine and practice within the LCMS so that they might be resolved among us and that unity – a true walking together – might be obtained.  We encourage you to visit our website to learn more about what we, by God's grace, as fellow members with you of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, are seeking to accomplish.


Your Servants For Christ's Sake,
ACELC Board of Directors, Pro Tem
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