This fall, I would invite us to pray a familiar prayer very frequently. Reinhold Neibuhr wrote it. He was, at one time, considered the most influential American theologian. He was frequently interviewed in magazines. He often appeared with Cardinal Cushing, a Roman Catholic Bishop in America. Their public conversations helped bridge a painful religious divide.
The prayers first sentence has helped many people in the struggle for freedom from addiction.But there are three more sentences, and two of those sentences have a semicolon, which means there are five.
Through September and October, I will build my sermons from the ideas expressed in this classic prayer.You can consult the preaching titles to see how I will do this. But I want you to know why I have planned this.
These are days of stress and strain.Racial tensions continue, the COVID 19 threat still requires careful management. The rhythm and the flow of church life itself have been interrupted. We are still wondering how to responsibly re-establish that flow. This prayer gives us a shortlist of the very basics of the faith.I believe that in times of stress and strain, focusing on the basics is the better course of action.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.Living life one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.Taking, as [Jesus] did, this sinful world as it is, not as we would have it.Trusting that [God] will make all things right if we just surrender to [the Divine] will; that we may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with [God] forever in the next.
Consider keeping a copy of this prayer handy. You might place in your bible and pray it each day when you read scripture.You might leave a copy on your night table and read it as you prepare to sleep. You could leave it by your coffee pot and reflect on the prayer with your morning coffee.
God has faithfully led God's Church through many seasons, and God will lead us through this one!
Grace and peace,