Contemplating the Arc of Peace – Mark Ditmanson reflects on what it means to pray that we might be “instruments of your peace.”
Care for Creation Reflection on the Revised Common Lectionary
Thank you to the EcoFaith Network of the ELCA’s Northeastern Minnesota Synod for providing a reflection on this week’s lectionary readings. You can learn more about what they do and subscribe to their monthly newsletter here. Our regular commentary series will resume on February 27th, with the Transfiguration of Our Lord.
Readings for the Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year C (2022, 2025)
Genesis 45:3-11, 15
Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
O Lord Jesus, make us instruments of your peace, that where there is hated, we may sow love, where there is injury, pardon, and where there is despair, hope. Grant, O divine master, that we may seek to console, to understand, and to love in your name, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (ELW p. 25)
The prayer of the day for this Sunday is an obvious homage to the prayer attributed to St. Francis. It is a wonderful prayer that leads us into the themes of reconciliation and mercy that we find in the story of Joseph (Genesis 45:3-15), as well as Jesus’ call to radical forgiveness, generosity, and love (Luke 6:27-38). The prayer also opens the door to contemplating the arc of peace possible when practicing the presence of God. The story of Joseph has the beautiful notes of healing between brothers, but also the inspiring caretaking of resources for the rescue of an entire nation of peoples. Not only do we see the beauty of the reunion among Joseph’s family, we hear how God’s providence was implemented by the wise stewardship of Joseph so that not only could the people of Egypt survive, but so could the people of Israel.
The agency of Joseph in such a massive humanitarian project cannot be ignored. God made it so, but Joseph was the one who received the word and acted upon it. How does such recognition of God working through human agency inspire us to act on behalf of others? Are we aware of impending crises? Has God spoken? Are we listening? Revelations through science, a God given gift of discernment, are pointing to the places we are called to sow hope where there is despair. Prophets among us, many of them young activists, are pointing to the dangers facing human life as well as that of many species of our fellow earthlings. In our community in Cook County, MN, two teenage girls are petitioning our county commissioners and our city council to declare a climate crisis. They and their friends had already influenced our town some years ago to establish a Climate Action Plan. They truly are prophetic young people. They inspire hope among us. Just as Joseph did all that he could to assure the lives of the people under his watch, we can also hear the call to guard and protect (till and keep) the resources that preserve life. It is the loving compassionate call of God.
The prayer is written in such a way that our imaginations follow the pattern in place. The list of healing is not exhaustive but is inviting the one praying to imagine what more might she heal, or what more might they do for the sake of God’s children and God’s creations? And we do this not just for those with whom we agree or are already reconciled. Praying that we might be “instruments of your peace,” means the healing of the world and all who live here.
Mark Ditmanson is pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais, MN. In his spare time he is a hobby beekeeper, planter of trees, provider of swamp milkweed for monarchs, and a gardener. He also serves on the leadership team of the EcoFaith Network NE MN Synod.
Originally written by Mark Ditmanson in 2022.