Today I paused and considered the state of our nation, the political discourse and my recent essays. While I remain deeply concerned about our country's future and profoundly troubled by the current administration, I think a moment of introspection is due - for me, for the churches of our land, and for every thoughtful person that possesses some reverence for God and respect for others. In the midst of passionate polemics, we can forget our own personal proclivities for good and evil. In the middle of debating economic policies, we can be ignorant of needs across the street and around the world that we can help solve.
For years I have been calling - along with thousands of others - for a moral and spiritual awakening that compels consecration among believers, conversion of many and transformation of economic, moral and social spheres of our world. We need to be aroused from our selfish stupors and embraced by Divine love and holiness. Such conversion is not for our own ecstatic delight alone; authentic awakening compels service to those that cannot return the favor. Consecration to God also stimulates creativity and cooperation that can engender new wealth.
Where do we start? New mass meetings? Viral sermons and prayer times? Another 3, 7 or 12-step book? All of these may help. But there is a ancient prayer that we can offer that may be the spark for the millions of brush fires we need.
The prayer I speak of is the Kyrie Eleison prayer used by all streams global Christianity. Rooted in the texts of Old and New Testament, the prayer means, "Lord, have mercy." The Orthodox tradition adds the famous, "Jesus Prayer" - "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy (on me)." These ancient words of humility and dependence are needed in our hour of nattonal and personal crises.
Yes, we must debate, vote and work. Yes, we must allow for civil discourse and not impose any religious tests for citizenship, public office or neighborliness. I am not speaking of a movement that imposes prayer - I am calling on all people of faith to pray these words from the depths of hearts hungry for change. We must not make this prayer privately engaging and publicly irrelevant. "Lord, have mercy..." needs to offered for all women and men, whether we agree with their personal choices or political ideas. "Kyrie Eleison" applies to churchgoers enslaved to food and pornography as well as all who struggle with all addictions.
"Kyrie Eleison" means I will pray for our President's well-being and that God will help him change where needed as well as persevere where good is promoted. "Lord have mercy" begins with my own soul and reverberates to a world starving for moral leadership. Here are some Kyrie Eleison prayers to get us started in a new direction of civility and hope:
"Lord, have mercy on me for my myopic vision and self-centered living. Help me wake up every day with the desire to honor you and bring good to others. Help me see all my activity as service and keep me from merely advancing my agendas."
"Lord, have mercy on your church. Let every community, every parish experience gracious renewal as your love and holiness are the focus rather than consumer needs and personal preferences. Kyrie Eleison - renew us in this day. We deserve wrath - please remember mercy."
"Lord, have mercy on our nation. You love all humankind and will bless all who call on your Name in truth. Help us appreciate your work in our history while repenting of our arrogance. We are only as exceptional as our reverence for you and our integrity in life. Forgive our prejudice toward "the other." We forget that each person we see is made in your image and an object of your affection. Forgive our wanton disregard for life, from conception to coronation, from forgetting the poor and vulnerable to treating the aged and challenged as burdens."
"Kyrie Eleison for our current administrations in our cities, counties, states and in Washington, D.C. Help all in places of power to be servants not masters, stewards of a trust and not despots of select interests. Help all in service to debate well and forge solutions that move us forward. Keep them alert to the dangers of radical ideologies that hold so many captive. Let your love, holiness and mercy move them in pursuit of equity and opportunity, always sustaining faith in the Almighty and in their neighbor."
Many more prayers can be offered. What would happen if millions of us cried out every day, "Lord have mercy."? Perhaps we would forgive from our hearts and be less angry. Perhaps the glory of God and good of others would restrain our egos. Perhaps we would sit down with rivals and ask the question, "What is the best way forward regardless of who is funding our campaigns?"
One thing is certain: if we walk in this disposition, we will contribute more than we take from our world and make at least one person's day brighter. Perhaps that is where the awakening begins.