Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reconciliation and hope through Sri Lanka's Current Crisis

I was recently asked by the Anglican Bishop of Colombo to share my thoughts on Sri Lanka’s crisis with clergy and lay persons who are participants in the diocese’s ‘Program on Peace and Reconciliation.’ Much of my talk focused on challenges that Sri Lanka faces, drawing on my recent lectures and published work. However saying something meaningful about Reconciliation and hope was a challenge. For assistance I borrowed a King James Bible from my hostess and researched the concordance (list of topics with scriptural references).

What I found most compelling were the passages about forgiveness (there were none about reconciliation).

The gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6
• Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
• For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses.

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 6
• But love ye your enemies and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great and ye shall be the children of the Highest, for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
• 36. Be ye merciful as your father also is merciful.
• 37. Judge not and ye shall not be judged; condemn not and ye shall not be condemned; forgive and ye shall be forgiven.

The Gospel of Luke Chapter 23
• And when they were come unto the place which is called calvary, there they crucified him and the malfactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment and cast lots.

The Gospel of John, Chapter 2
• 9. He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in darkness, even until now.
• 10. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

Pauls Epistle to the Ephesians Chapter 4
• 31. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice
• 32. And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

I concluded my talk with the following:

About two years ago, one of my close friends, the writer Elizabeth Neeld, shared with me her new book entitled, A Spiritual Primer, a Guide to Quiet Time and Prayer. One of the meditative practices she describes begins with what is know as the prayer attributed to St. Francis. Since reading this book, I have begun most days with the St. Francis Prayer. And it is with this prayer that I should like to conclude our search for understanding of Sri Lanka’s crisis, hope and reconciliation, this evening.

There must be many among you who know this prayer and you should feel free to join me, either silently or aloud.

O Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace
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, let me seek not so much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to live
For it is giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life

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Anonymous Jenny said...

The Prayer of St. Francis has always been a favorite of mine--and it's particularly beautiful when sung.

8:50 PM  

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