O Holy Spirit, giver of light and life,
impart to us thoughts better than our own thoughts,
and prayers better than our own prayers,
and powers better than our own powers,
that we may spend and be spent
in the ways of love and goodness,
after the perfect image of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Eric Milner-White and G W Briggs
Dear People of St. David’s,
I hope that you are well and flourishing in these fall days. We’ve celebrated All Saints’ Day and are heading towards Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas. Time seems to speed up a bit with these landmark holidays on the horizon. They are joyous, and we look forward to them: the reunions, the stories, and the food! I always remember the grace my father said at the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables, and I’m sure you have similar recurring memories.
At the same time, we’re living through difficult times. As I write, it is Election Day, and the media, our mail, and our phones have been full of unpleasant attack advertisements from both major political parties that only seemed to increase as Election Day got closer. The American people have divided loyalties and very different opinions about what is best for our nation. I’ve also been following news of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP27, being held for about two weeks in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. It’s very alarming to hear what is on the agenda of this conference: whether island nations will be under water in a few years, the looming famines around the world, and the disastrous effects of the severe weather patterns that we’ve been experiencing. What do we do, or what can we do, about global warming? What are our financial responsibilities around fossil fuels and renewable energies? The conference agenda items alone are dizzying.
It is often hard to know what to think and how to pray. How can we respond with intentionality and integrity as Christians? I find myself returning again and again to the prayer above. Both authors were military chaplains in WWII, and both knew conflicted times. To acknowledge, with great humility, that the Holy Spirit can indeed help us toward, “thoughts better than our own thoughts, prayers better than our own prayers,” and endow us with, “powers better than our own powers,” is comforting to me, and I hope to you as well. Surely God’s Spirit will empower us to truly listen to one another more deeply, and to make plans that benefit all God’s people, if we are attentive to the Spirit’s leading.
There is a lovely old New England expression, “You can do anything with the Grace of God and a long-handled spoon.” The long-handled spoon was the practical side – be prepared with a tool that can serve you well! The Grace of God referred to all that cannot be controlled, and all that we can only acknowledge needs God. The Grace of God is what makes possible “thoughts better than our own thoughts, prayers better than our own prayers, and powers better than our own powers.”
We are God’s own, and we can probably be trusted to find the appropriate long-handled spoon. But for the bigger questions we live with, alongside the joys of the upcoming holidays, we need the Grace of God. May we always be humble enough to pray for it, and to desire it with all our hearts.
The Rev. Elizabeth W. Colton