Supplication, Prayers, Intercessions, and Thanksgivings
Jane Gardner, presiding evangelist
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. -1Timothy 2:1-4
I was going to be traveling for an extended period, so well ahead of time I worked on the sermon I was to preach on 1Timothy 2:1-4. With thoughts organized and neatly typed, I felt prepared and ready to be on my way.
Then the unthinkable happened. Two planes were deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, another into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a fourth smashed into a Pennsylvania farm field killing all on board. More than 3,000 lives were lost in that international tragedy on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Victims were from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Germany, Great Britain, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldavia, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United States, and Venezuela. This type and magnitude of terrorism was rare and emotion-filled reactions were swift around the globe. Much of the rhetoric called for vengeance and retaliation.
On Saturday night, I opened my sermon notes to prepare for the Sunday worship. What I found was nothing less than a miracle. Paul, in his first pastoral letter to Timothy, gives guidance on the way those of faith are to live within the church and the world. “Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving” were to be made for everyone, especially for those in high positions, “so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.”
Were there ever more appropriate words to speak to a hurting world? Could we lift ourselves out of the violence-induced stupor long enough to hear Paul’s guidance? During that worship experience we decided to pray for the families of the victims from so many nations who died on that day. We also prayed for those who perpetrated the violence. We wanted to make sure the focus was not just on this one event, but was a prime moment to acknowledge the lack of shalom in all nations and to name the violence that befalls too many on the planet.
After the service, several commented how inspired it was to use the scripture from 1Timothy as a basis for dealing with the tragedy. My response? The scripture was from The Revised Common Lectionary schedule and had been programmed two years earlier, in 1999. My sermon had been prepared weeks ahead. The Spirit used a scripture schedule and whatever preparation I had made to begin the healing process that Sunday.
I’m a believer in the richness of scripture and the dynamic way it continues to be applicable in today’s world. I’m a believer in the movement of the Spirit.
“…all things in God and God in all things” (Mechthild of Magdeburg).
Reflecting on Presence
Breathe deeply and become present to the Presence with you here and now. Take a few moments in the silence to reflect prayerfully on the following questions:
Where have you been aware of God’s presence in your life?
What is God’s invitation to you in this story?
How do you desire to be more open to God’s presence and invitation tomorrow?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.