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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 21, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 56:1, 6–8

Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered. (NRSV)

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”

On September 11, 2011, Fourth Church hosted an event commemorating the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Christian, Jewish, and Islamic speakers came together along with a choir of 120 Jewish and Christian singers and an Islamic children’s choir. A fifteen-minute commissioned piece by Aaron David Miller called “Voices of Peace”—and based on children’s poems from around the world—was sung.

The planning for all this began in January and was at times rather difficult. We had many things in common among our three faith traditions, but we had differences as well. We sought to celebrate what we had in common and to gain strength and understanding in our differences.

By the time the service began that evening, there were 1,200 people, a capacity crowd, to sing, listen, and pray together. We sang about peace, we listened to stories, and we prayed for healing and reconciliation in our hearts, with our neighbors, and throughout the world. When it was over we were all deeply transformed and our lives were much better than before. One person said, “I have only had a few glimpses of heaven in my life, and that was one of them.”

Lord of all peoples and nations, thank you for giving us many expressions of faith to praise and worship you. Help us to maintain justice and do what is right at all times and in all places. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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