Preparing for Worship – Darren DeMent, associate pastor.
This Sunday in worship, we will hear a choral arrangement of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. This well-known prayer begins with the line: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.” The prayer then goes on to describe the positive outcomes the would result if the pray-er were to be given that role. Instead of hatred, there could be love. Instead of injury, pardon, and so on.
Now when I hear the word instrument my mind will usually go to thoughts of some carved piece of wood with strings on it. Other musically-minded folks may move to thoughts of forged brass or ivory keys. Some mechanically-minded folks may have visions of gauges or switches. Those who are culinary minded may think of spatulas, while the medically minded may envision a scalpel. The word instrument can engender a wide variety of images, but they all have one thing in common. An instrument can do nothing of its own volition. It can only be used to accomplish another’s purpose.
As much as I may want my guitar to produce the same kind of sounds that Doc Watson’s did, the truth is it’s not up to the guitar. My guitar will only produce the sounds that I am able to play (which is a far cry from Doc). This is the reality of an instrument. It is nothing more than a tool or a device, a medium to be manipulated to bring about the user’s purpose.
So when we pray the prayer of St Francis, we are asking God to use us to accomplish God’s purposes here on earth. It is an admission that bringing love and forgiveness and hope and joy into the world are things that are beyond our own abilities. It is an acknowledgement that in another’s hands we could just as easily be, and often are, used to bring about death, sadness, pain or strife. And it is a recognition that when we allow ourselves to be used by God, we play a role in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. May we all allow ourselves to be used in this way.