Christmas day our friend, Peter Yoon, spoke about what’s the proper song for Christmas, what song is in your heart? When you look around, everyone has earbuds in and enjoys their own songs.
Peter asked what song will you sing to Jesus? What song will you take into the new year? Then we sang a beautiful, new to me song based on St. Francis’ prayer. Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace . . .
Craig and I had this same prayer sung in our wedding; I’ve long liked the words. Since an early anniversary, we have had the prayer hanging in our home. But this Christmas day I thought about the words in a new way. What does it mean to be an instrument of peace?
Well, instruments need to be practiced and played by another. I can be an instrument, well made, beautiful tone, but still someone has to want to play the music. When others “play” me, what song comes out?
As I thought about thought about being an instrument, I realized I want to be well tuned to the pulse of God’s love, peace, forgiveness, hope, light, and I wondered how to do that.
Currently, I am reading through a collection of Essays by Dallas Willard, Renewing the Christian Mind, and the day after I read his explanation of our
- impulsive will – what comes out when we’re bumped, choosing what you want in the moment
- reflective will – what you think about and do, choosing what is good
- embodied will – when reflective will becomes habituated in your body, when you’re bumped physically or metaphorically and what is good comes out in without effort.
Others play the instrument we are whether we want to be played or not. This summer when racial tensions resulted in dominoes of death, John Perkins called Leroy Barber and told him a story. You can hear the specifics here , but the gist is that decades ago Perkins was pulled over by a police officer. Perkins’ wife and children were in the car. The officer hit him, seeking a reason to hurt Perkins, to shoot him.
What would be your response to such treatment?
Perkins had so reflected on his experiences of having his brother murdered by a local marshal, that when the violence occurred, his reaction was “This man needs Jesus.”
This was not my reaction or response when I heard the story.
This is not my response to injustice.
I want to reflect on the ways of peace, on persons of peace, so that I can embody such grace. Peace, shalom, that directly reflects the wholeness, the integration that God intends for us, not absence of conflict but wholeness. When I am “played,” I hope this is the song that will come out – a song of hope, a song of truth, a song of wholeness and shalom.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,
and may your whole spirit and soul and body
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
St. Francis (1181-1226), Dallas Willard (1935-2013), John Perkins (1930 – present), Peter Yoon all my teachers in becoming an instrument of peace.
What song is being played in your life right now?