I am celebrating Easter this year in Kigali, Rwanda. I have been thinking all this week about how the gospel of peace, the result of the resurrection of Jesus, crosses boundaries. I have been thinking about how our prayers for peace also need to cross those boundaries.
Every morning the Muslim call to prayer at 4:50 a.m. pushes me out of bed and to a time of prayer for the Muslims in this country and around the world. I sense God’s heart of love for all people and the call to pray for all people everywhere (1 Timothy 2:1-4). I find it difficult to be faithful to that call, and sometimes I feel preposterous praying for peace in hard places, never knowing what difference it makes. I need the Spirit’s help to be faithful. So I chug away at prayer. Thinking of the title of Andrew Murray’s book, With Christ in the School of Prayer, I wonder when I will graduate from kindergarten.
I’ve felt the urge to cross another boundary lately as I pray for gay and lesbian people in our own country and for the deliberations of the Supreme Court. I pray for my own perspectives to be according to God’s heart for all people, and I sense slow subtle changes that frighten me a little.
And just this week I’ve become aware of a new audacious call to prayer. My friend and colleague Norberto Saracco sent an article he recently wrote about his friendship with Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in Buenos Aires as they have both participated in a movement that brings together evangelicals and Catholics in spiritual retreats and in projects of evangelism, Bible distribution, and the promotion of unity. Norberto writes that, “Two years ago, we evangelical pastors were invited to a Pentecost Sunday mass in the central cathedral. After finishing his homily, Cardinal Bergoglio addressed the crowd, telling how Catholics had persecuted evangelicals. He concluded by publically asking pardon.”
Norberto called the Cardinal the day before his trip to Rome and the conclave of cardinals. At the end of their conversation, Bergaglio requested, as is his custom, that Norberto pray for him. The rest is history. Now that he has become Pope Francis, the call to pray for him becomes more significant.
As Easter week draws toward its climax, the call to pray for world peace, in small specific ways, doesn’t seem any more audacious or preposterous than what Jesus did for us on the cross, thus becoming our peace (Ephesians 2:14-18). And because of his resurrection, we boldly approach the throne of God and make our preposterous petitions, crossing all sorts of boundaries. Thus we partner with Christ and pray peace and salvation for Muslims, and for marginalized peoples in our country and around the world. Thus we pray for the Pope and dare to believe it matters.
Contributed by Nancy Thomas, North Valley Friends, Friend Serving Abroad