One of the stanzas of the hymn is:
“Crown him the Lord of peace, Whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease, And all be prayer and praise.”
I’m struck by the contrast…war and prayer/praise cannot coincide. I look at my own puny life and have to concur. When I war with another, when I seek to inflict pain or confusion, I stand alone…no God in sight. No prayers or praise can I voice, can I lift. I assert my will and set aside God for awhile…or, if He is in the picture, I’m utterly convinced He’s on my side.
Do we do this collectively, like the hymn asserts? With Jesus, our Lord of Peace, is war obsolete? When we assert our will over another nation, another people, are we squelching our ability to pray, to praise…really pray, really praise? As we seek to acquire our own ends at the expense of others, justifying it all along the way, are we shutting down spiritually? Is God’s love and power dimmed in our lives because we only see ourselves? Some would say, “no”, that we simply pray to and praise God for His help in the fight, for His victory through us over evil–the evil that is ‘over there’, that is ‘them’. I would posit that we miss the evil eye in the mirror…we turn away and project, project, project. We refuse to eyeball our own dark ways, our own dark hearts.
There will be a time, at the end of time, when wars will cease. Why? Because all will see Jesus coming in the clouds, all will look up and see, all will know. Fighting will stop, wars will cease and all will either praise and pray or mourn. Some will run and hide, others will ascend. Maybe we do that already when we catch glimpses of God, when we sense He is near…some of us scurry and hide and others of us lift our heads and look Him full in the face.
Maybe we can jump the gun a bit and invite the Prince of Peace to come wielding His power, power that “a scepter sways”, power that makes things happen. Maybe we can invite Him and His Peace so that we feel safe enough to let our individual and collective wars cease now, let forgiveness be given and received, work toward erecting bridges of trust with God as the builder. If so, maybe we’ll willingly empty inner rooms filled with war strategies, field maps and communication interceptors. In so doing maybe we’ll find room in our lives for and actually desire that all “be prayer and praise”.
(Contemplative prayer update: I don’t know if this is a common offshoot of this kind of prayer but I’m finding that when I read a book, I often know what is lower on the page before I read it…kinda like my mind sees it, notes it and then as I approach it, I’ve already thought of it, already know it…I’ve heard speed readers do something like this without the actual reading of the text. Hmmm…never been a speed reader myself)
PS this is this blog’s one year anniversary..who’d have thunk it!