This prayer is the first one that I wrote for Shiloh, the worship service organized by Samford’s University Ministries. It is a responsive reading in one respect and also a supplication to God that we might be better at loving those the world deems less-than-worthy, unlovable, or somehow inferior. Scripture passages were taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and N.T. Wright’s Kingdom New Testament (KNT) or The New Testament for Everyone if you’re in the UK. It concludes with the prayer attributed to St. Francis as recorded in Claiborne, Okoro, and Wilson-Hartgrove’s Common Prayer. I think it would most assist a congregation’s experience when talking about the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, but also with most of the narratives quoted by the Readers.
Reader 1: Lord, help us to love like you love. Help us to love all who you love.
Congregation: Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader 2: “Sir, Give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty …” (John 4: 15, NRSV)
Congregation: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3, NRSV)
Reader 1: “Master! If only you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” (John 11:32, KNT)
Congregation: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4, NRSV)
Reader 2: “Sir, I don’t have anyone to put me into the pool when the water gets stirred up. While I’m on my way there, someone else gets down before me.” (John 5:7, KNT)
Congregation: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5, NRSV)
Reader 1: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and … sin no more.” (John 8:11, ESV)
Congregation: Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7, NRSV)
Reader 2: Then Mary took a pound of very expensive perfume … she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, and wiped his feet with her hair. (John 12:3, KNT)
Congregation: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8, NRSV)
Reader 1: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone …” (John 8:7, NRSV)
Congregation: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9, NRSV)
Reader 2: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Congregation: Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not
So much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. (CP)