Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen. – Book of Common Prayer, page 816
This is one of my favorite prayers for the Church. And I’ve been praying it a lot lately.
I love that it does not assume the church is perfect or always right. But I also love that it believes that God has the capacity to purify, reform, and improve the church; and that with God’s grace, we can be agents of divine truth and peace.
All for the sake of Jesus.
I have been a church leader who is amiss and in need of reform. I have been a victim of church leaders who were amiss, and needed to be reformed.
As a bishop, I grow ever more aware of the limitations and frailty of our leadership–we are human beings who even at our best make mistakes, and have the capacity to harm people without desiring to effect harm. And sometimes the church–and the people in the church–harm others with deliberate intent.
As a bishop, I am also aware of the incredible power and capacity we have for leading change–change in culture, change in Spirit, change from mourning to laughing, and from death to life. The promise of this prayer is that we are not hopeless or helpless–when we are following Jesus, seeking truth and peace, we do not need to despair.
I ask you to join me in praying for the church.