Praying for Reconciliation
The Gospel of Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is sparse when compared with Matthew’s or the version we’re used to praying in worship.
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial. (Luke 11:1-5)
Yet even this bare-bones version of the prayer carries the fullness of Jesus’ message and mission: putting God first; relying on God for our needs; God’s grace for us and our sharing of that grace with others; trusting our future to God. As we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we are reminded of what that kingdom looks like. As Sharon Ringe put it:
What is at stake is a wholly new basis for human interaction – the polar opposite of the systems of debt and obligation, patronage and merit, honor and shame, that characterize life under various human institutions and authorities. In the realm of God, those old rules are canceled, and all things are made new. It is a prayer to be both spoken and lived. 1
During the night of November 14, 1940, firebombs fell on the English city of Coventry. The medieval cathedral there took heavy damage, and only its spire and a few outside walls were left standing. The next morning a local priest came to take in the ruins, and he collected a few medieval nails that he found amid the wreckage. Taking some wire, he bound the nails together into the shape of a cross.
Soon the words “Father Forgive” were carved on a wall in the ruins, right behind the communion altar. Not “Father Forgive Them,” but simply and broadly: “Father Forgive.”
A month later, on Christmas Day, the community gathered in the cathedral ruins and defiantly celebrated the birth of the Savior. The cathedral’s provost later said on a BBC broadcast:
“Early this Christmas morning, here under these ruins, in the lovely little stone chapel built six hundred years ago, we began the day with our Christmas communion, worshiping the Christ, believe me, as joyfully as ever before. What we want to tell the world is this: that with Christ born again in our hearts today, we are trying, hard as it may be, to banish all thoughts of revenge… We are going to try to make a kinder, simpler, a more Christ Child-like sort of world in the days beyond this strife.”
This declaration was a seed that grew into the Community of the Cross of Nails, a global network of organizations who commit to these guiding principles:
- Healing the wounds of history;
- Learning to live with difference and celebrate diversity;
- Building a culture of peace.
Valparaiso University is a member of this community. The cross in this picture is of our own Coventry Cross of Nails, which we received in 1965, symbolizing our connection to this network. This is the cross we use in our worship services.
But more potently, we remind ourselves of our community’s commitment to reconciliation by regularly praying the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation. At the Coventry Cathedral, this litany is prayed daily at noon, in the ruins themselves. Here at Valpo, we often say these words together during Thursday morning prayer, and other confessions we use, which have been written by students over the years, have been inspired by this litany.
The Coventry community hopes that the litany “serves as a reminder that when we pray about the problems of the world around us, we need to begin by acknowledging the roots of those problems in our own hearts.”
As we continue to lament the news headlines; as we pray for the people of Ukraine, Myanmar, Nigeria, and all who live amid war and violence; as we go numb with arguing about the pandemic; as we gird ourselves for another election cycle…
May the Lord’s Prayer be our daily reminder that God has called and claimed us for a radical way of being in this broken world: with lives centered on God’s love and grace, lives that build up love and grace in the world around us.
May prayers like the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation remind us to look both inward and outward as we pray for God’s grace to cover and transform the broken places in our world.
May God make our commitment bear the fruit of reconciliation in our own Valpo community and beyond.
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste to the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women, and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
1 Sharon H. Ringe, Luke, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 165.
March 23, 2022
Rev. Katherine Museus Dabay takes turns writing weekly devotions with Rev. James A. Wetzstein at Valparaiso University, where both serve as university pastors.
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A call to courage for 2021
- A charming tale for over-achievers
- A Lesson On Beans … and Being
- A New Place
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- A Time of Dust
- Acquiring a peaceful spirit
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Anastasis: the Greatest Story of God’s Saving Power
- Another kind of darkness
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- As if we needed a reminder
- Beacons of hope
- Better Together
- Blessings As You Go
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Fear of the Lord
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Getting through this together
- God is not overwhelmed
- Good Friday
- Grief & Graduation
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How do you keep from giving up hope?
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- Imagining Eternity
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In everything, grateful
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Jesus among us
- Killing off our future selves
- Knowing a Good Thing When We See It
- Lessons in fire building
- Let there be light!
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- Naming our demons
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- On the day after the night before
- Persistent and Extravagant
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Praying for Reconciliation
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Rest is Holy
- Right where we are
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Surprisingly Simple: Breathe!
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Trouble with Mammon
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You might be a Lutheran if…
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- WWJD? We already know
- Walking in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection
- We had hoped
- We’re on a mission from God
- What do you do with your anger?
- What good is a shepherd?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When God uses something terrible for good
- When heaven & earth click
- When joy and sadness live together
- When stress overwhelms
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- When we are moved
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Won’t you be my neighbor?
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future