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‘Easter Morning,’ BBC Wales

I planned to follow up to my last post, on Neo-Calvinism, with a bit of polemics, but then I thought why not a prayer instead? I offered the following during the prayers of the people at our church a few weeks back—as it happened, on the Sunday between the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, refracting some of their themes through the prism of Christ. The words have something of a Sunday feel, but we’re supposed to carry that through the rest of the week, no?

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu. Blessed are you, Lord God, ruler of the universe, and blessed be your holy name forever. For you have created us from the dust of the earth and given us a home in your lovely creation, to tend and develop it. You have made us for fellowship with all those who bear your image, with all their gifts and talents and cultures. And when we abused these gifts, or neglected them, you sent prophets and teachers to lead us back to the right way. Then, in the fullness of time, you sent your own beloved Son to show forth perfectly your will and your ways—and yourself. For this your greatest gift we give our greatest thanks.

We do that together here on the first day of the week to remember the greatest work you accomplished through your Anointed One, for by raising him from the dead you have not only sealed to us the forgiveness of sins which he accomplished on the cross but have triumphed over death itself. Lord God, we would know Christ and the power of his resurrection so that we may dare to enter into his sufferings, and thus into fellowship with all who suffer in this world. And so we now lift up to you, by voice or in the silence of our hearts, the names of those near to us who are ill in body or mind…, who grieve the loss of someone, or some good thing, dear to them… who face this coming week with anxiety or apathy… who have lost their way and need a second chance….

Lord Jesus Christ, we would live by the power of your resurrection. As we have been freed from death, free us also from the fear of death and from the chains of sin and failure that it forges. We would live by hope, not by apprehension; by love, not by self-seeking; by visions of your beauty, not by our achievements and accumulations. In triumphing over death, you have invited us not to live by the rules of this world but by those of your blessed reign which is to come but is already here among us. This is scary because we don’t know where your invitation might lead , and because many of us have done quite well in this world, thank you very much, and we worry about all we might have to lose.

So help us to hear, and heed, the voice of your Easter angel and to know that you have gone ahead of us even in this American Galilee, that if we would see you we must seek you wherever you are—and in whomever you are. Give us eyes to see, faith to obey, courage to persist, and joy in the company of your saints. Nourish us as trees by the living stream of your word and Spirit so that our works and speech may be leaves for the healing of the nations—also, by your grace, toward the healing of this nation in this hour of its mortal illness. Whatever your will, strengthen us so that in the week ahead we may give all—the doubters and the disbelievers, the faithful and the feeble, those yearning for a good life and those who think it might be past—cause to praise you and the work you see fit to accomplish by our hands.

Blessed are your, Lord God, ruler of the universe, and blessed is the name of your Christ now and forever, Amen.

James Bratt

James Bratt is professor of history emeritus at Calvin College, specializing in American religious history and especially the connections between religion and politics. Starting in Fall 2016 he took a break from blogging on The Twelve to teach in China and on the Semester at Sea, which venues afforded him some welcome distance from the USA’s descent into its current mortal illness. But now he’s back in the States, looking for hope. His most recent book (which he edited and completed for the late John Woolverton) is  “A Christian and a Democrat”: Religion in the Life and Leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


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