Sunday, December 17-Third Sunday in Advent
Pilgrim Congregational Church
15 Common St, Southborough, MA 01772

Instruments of Peace

Silent PrayersPassage meditation will require you to choose a text that you can dig into for 20–30 minutes at a time, but it also must be memorable. As I mentioned, I chose the Prayer of St. Francis because it is poetic and easy-to-memorize while also supplying me with plenty to reflect on. As I go throughout my week, I often find words and phrases from the prayer coming back to me in specific situations. For this reason, I’m going to spend a few weeks going through the prayer here, helping us to think about the application of these words.

I use the text found in the Church of England’s Daily Prayer which is part of their newer liturgy, Common Worship. The text of the prayer is found on p. 408:

Lord, make me an instrument of your 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,
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.

It’s a beautiful text full of parallelism and thought-provoking turns of phase, isn’t it? Let’s start with that opening line:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

The word “instrument” grabs my attention every time. In Latin, the word instrumentum literally means a piece of equipment used to build something. I like to think, however, of instrument here in a slightly different context: a device used to produce musical sound, a musical instrument.

In either case the prayer begins with a request that the Lord—God—take hold of me and use me in order to bring God’s peace to earth. I prefer the musical meaning of instrument here because it allows me to imagine God vibrating my soul, playing beautiful music through me. The sound comes out and it creates peace and harmony—harmony, another musical term.

As inheritors of Heaven, we have a responsibility, a calling, to bring peace rather than division wherever we go. As I sit in a conference room, I must bring peace. As I walk my dog, I must bring peace. As I interact with students, friends, and family, I must bring peace. For peace to come through me, I must allow God to make beautiful music through me, vibrating my soul.

Jesus calls this out in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 when he says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (v. 9). We are made to bring peace into this world.

A few years ago, I faced a challenging situation in which I had to be a part of a series of meetings between two colleagues who simply could not see eye-to-eye. Prior to the beginning of each meeting, I wrote this line at the top of my notepad: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” That practice grounded me and kept me tuned into my role in the conversation: peacemaker.

This week reflect upon the parts of your life that feel like they lack peace. What is your responsibility, your duty, in the midst of that noise, that conflict, that distress? How can you become an instrument of God’s peace in these situations? Are you open to God making you an instrument of peace?

It may be as simple as slowing down and taking a series of deep breaths or repeating the opening line of this prayer in your mind over and over again.