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notre dame montreal

Prayers, Bible Study and Christian teaching

Ordinary 12 - Year B

Liturgical Colour - Green

Opening Verse

 
Collect Prayer
First Reading:
Second Reading:
Gospel Reading
Post Communion Sentence
Commentary:
Meditation:
Hymns
Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead:
Intercessions from our Sunday worship
Sermons

Statue of our Lady

Introduction

This statue of our Lady was made in Lebanon from the model of a seal of the abbey Notre Dame, dating from 13th centrury. It is the work of a well known Lebanese wood carver Joseph Hoveck. It was carved out of a branch of (fallen under its own weight) from the thousand year old cedars which grow on Mount Lebanon. I saw it on display in the Cathedral in Boulogne.

Did Jesus ever set sail in a boat with his mother? Well we just don't know, but the image of a boat and the church is a familiar one. The boat is a symbol of safety, it keeps alive the people of God. When you enter a church, the main body of the building is called the 'nave' from a medieval Latin term, 'navis' which means ship. The image of a ship providing safety under the hand of God is long established from the days of Noah, when God saved souls from the coming flood.

Of course the image of a boat has been an important symbol to generations of Christians who have felt that as they pass through the stormy seas of life they are carried safely with Christ, in the same way that those in boats cross stormy seas. This theology has been captured in the architecture of the Nave which is like an upside down boat and if you look upwards whilst seated in the Nave you will often see the main central rib becomes the keel of a boat, the ribs form the bottom, the pillars the sides and the floor becomes the deck.

The boat in this picture is a reassuance and encouragement to visiting pilgrims to place their faith in God who made all that there is and who in the midst of the stormiest seas beckons us to a place of spiritual safety.

 

Opening Verses of Scripture Psalm 9:8


He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Collect Prayer for the Day

Creator God, in the beginning your word subdued the chaos and in the fullness of time you sent Jesus, your Son, to rebuke the forces of evil and to make all things new. By that same power transform our fear into faith that we might have courage to follow in the way of your Kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

God of all power and truth and grace, you call your church to love and praise. Inspire us with zeal for your gospel, and grant us boldness  to proclaim your word, that we and all the world  may praise your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
Methodist Worship

Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord.

First Bible Reading    Job 38:1-11

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-- while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? "Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'?

Second Reading   2 Corinthians 6:1-13

As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favour, now is the day of salvation. We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange--I speak as to my children--open wide your hearts also.

Jesus Lord of the Storm

Gospel Reading Mark 4:35-41

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

Post Communion Sentence

Eternal God, we thank you for nourishing us with these heavenly gifts: may our communion strengthen us in our faith, build us up in hope, and make us grow in love; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Commentary

The passage from Mark today shows Jesus in a storm and clearly nature is important, but so also is geography. Listen to Jesus at the start of the passage ’Let us go over to the other side.’ At the start of Chapter 5 we read that when they had eventually crossed the lake and they get out of the boat they are in the country of Gerasenes and Jesus heals a man who has demons and we are told that the demons go into the pigs. They are going to a place where there will be pigs, it was a foreign place. It was different. Specifically if you were one of the disciples you would regard this as going to gentile territory. For Jesus the Jew, and the Jewish disciples this is a significant symbolic crossing as well as a literal one.

In their upbringing the disciples would have been taught that this was an unclean place, the place where gentiles lived. Gentiles were not favoured by the Jews, since Gentiles were unclean, the fundamental things for a Jew was to avoid such places and such people, they were to remain uncontaminated. The thing which is perhaps most important for us to remember is that this was not just something which they had picked up from their parents. This was Jewish teaching, this was Biblical teaching, this was from God. The God fearing faithful Jew believed that the gentile was unclean. God had told them. Jesus is now crossing the lake, and he is also crossing centuries of prejudice and separation. Jesus is rewriting the rules in a way which must have seemed frightening.

The worry which we all should share is that sometimes what we think of as God’s prejudice is actually just our prejudice and we justify it by convincing ourselves that God demands such behaviour. Good Christian people have done this throughout the centuries as we have colluded with racist and sexism. It was not so long ago we considered it alright for Christians to subjugate black people, marriage between blacks and whites was considered wrong by good God fearing people in this country. This would be bad enough if it were not for the fact that we use scripture to reinforce our prejudice.

The challenge for us today is to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to get into the boat with Jesus, knowing that it might take us to the other side, to foreign territory, spiritually, intellectually. The hardest journey is not a physical one, it is being able to open our minds. We know how difficult it was for the early church to come to terms with the inclusion of the gentiles into the new community. How prepared are you to cross to the other side, to meet people who you have been taught are unclean, to see them as Christ sees them?

So here are the disciples going to gentile country, a mission to new territory and they are doing so in the dark. Then there is a storm at sea and it is clear that they are frightened. The boat in which Jesus and the disciples were travelling was a little boat, and the waves were large and the wind was blowing in the night. The language used could mean a hurricane. The impression we are given is of hardened fishermen who had been through quite intense weather conditions and they were afraid because the conditions were life threatening. The waves were beating on the boat and the boat was filling with water. It is in this context that we are told the disciples use the words to Jesus ‘Don’t you care’

These words are considerably softened by the other Gospel writers ! Matthew has, "Save, Lord, we are perishing." Luke has, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" These words recorded by Mark sound harsh towards Jesus but we can understand them. Have you ever wondered what on earth Jesus was doing whilst people you knew suffered, or terrible things took place? Have you ever asked Jesus why he seemed less compassionate towards suffering than you? This story teaches us the valuable lesson that we cannot judge Jesus by the ferocity of the storms which rage around us. Jesus was totally present physically with the disciples and yet they encountered life threatening storms.
We are told that Jesus raised from sleep rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be silent!'" Jesus rebuked the wind just as he had rebuked the demonic powers (1:25, 3:12). He says to the sea, "Be silent!", which is the same thing he had said to the demon which had possessed the man in the synagogue (1:25).

This is really difficult because we could read this passage and believe that when we get into the storms of life, be they physical, spiritual or otherwise, that all we have to do is wake Jesus up and he will do something about it. This is the belief of many Christians. Millions of prayers are made which ask Jesus to stop the storm and provide a nice sunny day with calm seas. Give me a new job, give me a new girlfriend, stop the bank from taking my house, give me better exam grades than last year, make me well again. We must never lead people to believe that Jesus is like a Genie in a bottle. We all know that this is not what God is like. Jesus rebukes the disciples and the rebuke he uses is about their faith. Jesus says to the frightened disciples "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Faith will not protect us from the storms of life. Neither should we be in denial and pretend that storms around us do not exist. The presence of Jesus in the boat does not change the condition of the sea, neither are we protected from storms. However Jesus is clear that faith should have one important impact, it should drive out fear. His disciples will be buffeted and tossed about, they will be persecuted and tortured and killed. Yet Jesus is absolutely resolute that despite all of this they should be a people without fear.
Charles Royden

Meditation

Summer SolsticeThe Summer Solstcie marks the longest day of the year. The word "solstice" is Latin and comes from "sol" and "sistere," which means "sun stands still." For those living in the northern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is the day on which the earth, spinning on its axis, has its North Pole ‘tipped’ as far as it will go to face the sun. Because of this ‘tipping’ towards the sun, the northern hemisphere receives the longest hours of daylight of the year.

 

Let us pray:
Lord God, Creator of light, at the rising of your sun each morning, let the greatest of all lights - your love - rise, like the sun, within my heart. (from the Armenian Liturgy)

 

 

 

Hymns

 

  1. Lord of creation (Tune Slane)
  2. Be still for the presence of the Lord
  3. Eternal Father (Tune Melita)
  4. Jesus call us o’er the tumult (Tune St Andrew)
  5. God is our strength and refuge (Dambusters March)

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer encouragement in the Christian life

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian,

If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die


Keeper of our lives, you know the hardness and gentleness of human hearts. You call your people to faithful living. Through the storms of life that bring suffering and fear, joy and laughter, teach us to turn to you for all we need, so that we may come to know your presence even in the midst of the trials that surround us. Amen. 

Make us ever eager, Lord, to share the good things that we have. Grant us such a measure of thy Spirit that we may find more joy in giving than getting. Make us ready to give cheerfully without grudging, secretly without praise and in sincerity without looking for gratitude, for Jesus Christ’s sake. (John Hunter 1849-1917)

O God, the King of righteousness, lead us, we pray thee, in the ways of justice and of peace, inspire us to break down all tyranny and oppression, to gain for every man his due reward and from every man his due service; that each may live for all and all may care for each, in the name of Jesus Christ. (Archbishop William Temple 1881-1944)

O God who hast bound us together in this bundle of life, give us grace to understand how our lives depend on the industry, the honesty and integrity of our fellow men; that we may be mindful of their needs, grateful for their faithfulness, and faithful in our responsibilities to them; through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rev Dr Reinhold Niebur 1892-1971)

 

 

Additional Material

Commentary

"Teacher, don't you care….?"

If you read through the first four chapters of Mark you will quickly recognise that the ministry of Jesus was not a peaceful one. Indeed it would be possible to say that it was characterised by scenes of terrible conflict. It all starts off well with the baptism and calling of the first disciples but it seems that Mark is just starting off by reassuring us who Jesus really was before all the trouble starts! Jesus is Son of God (1:1) but this serves only to prepare us for the battle to come.

  • In Chapter 1 Verse 24 an evil spirit tells that Jesus has come to destroy and he goes on to drive out demons.
  • In Chapter 2 Verse 7 the religious leaders turn against him charging him with blasphemy.
  • By Chapter 3 Verse 22 they are accusing him of being in league with Satan.
  • Then in Chapter 3 Verse 21 even some his own family have decided to arrest him because they think he has finally gone out of his mind, we learn in verse 31 that his mother went along with this.

Little surprise then that by Chapter 4: Verse 35, our reading today, that his own disciples accuse him of not caring from them.

The episode concerns a storm on the lake. Remember that these were hardened fishermen, so this was clearly a storm of some proportions.

I wonder would we have behaved any differently if we were in that boat on Lake Galilee when the storm came and the waves started washing over the boat? Would the fact that you had Jesus with you have made any difference as you watched the water filling the inside of the sinking boat? Imagine no flares, no life jackets, no lifeboats, just you and the others and the imminent prospect of a dangerous swim. Undoubtedly the disciples were terrified, they had real fear and even the fact that Jesus was with them made no difference to their terror. The words of Jesus are a rebuke to the storm, but also a rebuke to the disciples "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

From his words should we conclude that Jesus expected the disciples to have been more calm? I doubt it, to be fearful in the face of life threatening situations is more likely to be a God given gift which help us to survive, it is foolish to walk without fear into danger. I am sure that Jesus would have understood the adrenalin rush as the waves leapt over the boat and the concern of the disciples in the face of the storm. However Jesus would understandably be hurt by the critical words of the disciples which went further than fear and doubted his care and love for them. The words of the disciples to Jesus are a personal challenge to him, "Teacher, don't you care….?"

The early Christian Church would have shared the same lives of confrontation as Jesus. They too knew the anger of the religious authorities, betrayal by friends and family. They would also have recognised evil in the world and understood that they were up against real spiritual evil. So they also may have been tempted to wonder whether Jesus cared for them when they were being killed for their faith. The answer to the question "Teacher, don't you care….?" was an emphatic YES!

So let us bring that message up to date and apply it to ourselves. You and I are in the boat and we face throughout our lives all manner of storms and crises which make us fearful. We cannot stop ourselves from being afraid when we are in perilous situations but we must never doubt that in that perilous situation Jesus is present with us and cares for us.

The early readers of Mark would have been reminded of the presence of their Risen Lord with them at all times, even in the face of organised state persecution and martyrdom. Only by trusting, even when we are afraid, can we come to know that same reassurance and peace which our Saviour brings. (Charles Royden)

Hymns

  1. O Lord my God
  2. Will your anchor hold
  3. I am a new creation
  4. Praise Him on the trumpet
  5. I want to walk with Jesus Christ
  6. Let all the world in every corner sing
  7. All my hope on God is founded
  8. Stand up, stand up for Jesus
  9. Be still for the presence of the Lord
  10. Eternal Father strong to save
  11. Jesus calls us o'er the tumult
  12. Praise the Lord ye heavens adore
  13. Praise to the lord, the Almighty
  14. Praise my soul
  15. Colours of day
  16. He is Lord
  17. Make me a channel,
  18. For the healing of the nations
  19. raise to the Lord
  20. Come on and celebrate
  21. I heard the voice of Jesus say
  22. Blessed Assurance

 

Meditation

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

The theme of this hymn by Priscilla Owens (1829-99) is surely right. When life is easy we can plod along regardless, not concerning ourselves with the complexities and deeper mysteries of life. Yet when the going gets tough, when we are faced with enormous problems, then questions come along which can shake the very core of our being. The death of a dear friend, a life threatening illness, these kinds of things can leave us wondering who we are and what point there is in life.

None of us is immune from this angst. In the words of the song by Allan Roberts 'Into each life some rain must fall.' In early Christian art it was not unusual to depict the church as a boat driven hard in a perilous sea, and Jesus in the midst, surrounded by a drenched crew filled with fear as they watch the waves plunge into their boat. We are all like a boat tossed against the "wings of strife." Can we survive ?

The answer, of course, is yes, for we have an anchor that keeps the soul.

 

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?

In early Christian art it was not unusual to depict the church as a boat driven hard in a perilous sea, and Jesus in the midst, surrounded by a drenched crew. Some of the crew are depicted filled with fear as they watch the waves plunge into their boat, while others are at peace as they look to Jesus - "steadfast and sure while the billows roll."  The church is indeed like a boat tossed against the "wings of strife." The storm that came against Jesus had the overtones of the dark domain. The storm represented powers opposed to God's new initiative in Jesus. Jesus was calling out a people to be with him, and the darkness sought to engulf his plan.

The church today is constantly affronted by the power of the secular city. The waves denounce the Christian ethic, denouncing the historicity of our faith, eradicating our influence within society. The waves come from behind, seeking to ; us to the world, sneaking entertainment concepts into worship, leading us to believe that marketing, selling, that the adoption of secular management criteria, are our only hope for future survival.

Will Christianity survive the affront of secularization and the test of marketed religion? Will the individual believer be able to survive the "billows roll"? The answer, of course, is yes, for "we have an anchor that keeps the soul."

Meditation

‘None of us is perfect and none of us has complete faith. That is why we should be very patient with those who seem very far away from the centre of life in the church. Jesus accepted many whose faith was immature and imperfect. He asked no one to sign along a dotted line or give evidence of performing religious duties. He simply asked people to listen to him and follow him. He relied on the Holy Spirit to lead them on in the truth. So must we, whatever kind of believers we are.’

Meditation

Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1860) has described the book of Job as an eternal drama with three actors, God, Humankind (he actually said mankind!) and Destiny, and many scholars agree that the book is a major work of literature, poetry, philosophical debate and written language. But what does it mean to us today? How much time do we spend debating among ourselves when perhaps our time would be better spent listening to God so that we can know how He wants to influence our destiny and the destiny of the world through us?

Prayers

Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, bless our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, and all who are in authority under her; that they may order all things in wisdom and equity, righteousness and peace, to the honour and glory of your name and the good of your Church and people; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the prince of peace: give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away our hatred and prejudice and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord, that, as there is but one body, one Spirit and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, so may we henceforth be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

GOD of love, turn our hearts to your ways; and give us peace. Amen.

A Prayer for Refugees ALMIGHTY and merciful God, whose Son became a refugee and had no place to call his own; look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger, homeless and hungry. Bless those who work to bring them relief; inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts; and guide the nations of the world towards that day when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Two Prayers for Justice 1 ALMIGHTY God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

2. GRANT us, Lord God, a vision of our land as your love would make it: a land where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor; - a land where the benefits of civilised life are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;- a land where different races and cultures live in tolerance and mutual respect; - a land where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love. And give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for Mercy LORD, remember Christ your Son who is peace itself and who has washed away our hatred with his blood. Because you love all people, look with mercy on us. Banish the violence and evil within us, and in answer to our prayers restore tranquility and peace. Amen.

A Prayer for the Leaders of the Nations O GOD our heavenly Father, whose love sets no boundaries and whose strength is in service; grant to the leaders of the nations wisdom, courage and insight at this time of darkness and fear. Give to all who exercise authority determination to defend the principles of freedom, love and tolerance, strength to protect and safeguard the innocent and clarity of vision to guide the world into the paths of justice and peace. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grant, Almighty God, that while your Son Jesus Christ is exalted to the throne of heaven, we may not be weighted down by the things of earth, but set our affection on the things above, where He is seated at your right hand, and lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. AmenPraying figure

Blessed are you, Lord God almighty, who gave your Son, Jesus Christ, to be our redeemer and the author of everlasting life; and exalted Him above all for ever; that at all times and in all places we might be partakers of His power and His glory. Amen

O God of love, in whose will is our peace, so set your peace in the hearts of all people that the nations of the world may learn to live as members of one family and children of one God and Father, to the glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, establish, strengthen and settle you in the faith; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Commentary

In a nutshell, the 42 chapters of the book of Job describe him being subject to a divine test to find out if he will serve God without profiting from it. After a short introduction a debate (in 3 cycles with a few bits missing) follows with his three friends around the subject of divine justice. There is then an interlude where the writer asks where wisdom is to be found, followed by Job’s oath of innocence, aimed at evoking a divine response. But instead of God appearing, Elihu shows up and chastises both Job for his complaints and his friends for their inadequate answers. Then, finally, out of the storm, God appears. He rebukes Job, but speaks mainly about the beauty and majesty of creation on the earth and in the sky. In the face of God and His words, Job relents and the book closes with a description of Job’s restoration.

The gospel reading describes Jesus and His disciples having an encounter with a ‘furious squall’. And this time it is Jesus who speaks out of the storm to bring calm and order. The disciples were right to be frightened. The boat they were probably in would have been flat bottomed and have the look of a rather large punt. This design had advantages for fishing, and Jesus had just used this particular boat as a speaking platform as people thronged around Him at the lakeside.

The parallels are clear. Just as we see in the Genesis story, we have a God who is in ultimate control of all His creation and who speaks out and acts, to bring hope out of despair, order out of chaos and peace out of turmoil. For some people, their lives too seem full of despair, chaos and turmoil. And all of us have days where the odds seemed stacked against us and where we long for a bit of order, peace and respite. Order, peace and respite that can often come by simply turning to God and asking Him to intervene in our lives, or in a particular situation or event. At any moment in time our storms may have a significant impact on our lives and may seem extremely large. But God is infinitely bigger. He is in control. And He listens out for our prayers.

Job and the disciples, as have many people through the ages, asked ‘Where is God in my situation?’ Sometimes it can be difficult to see Him or perceive His actions. Perhaps sometimes we get as far as asking ourselves and each other about what God is doing about a particular set of circumstances or events but forget to ask God directly. Or sometimes we’ll send up a quick prayer asking Him for help, (which He does hear) but don’t spend sustained time praying with God to try to work out with Him what He wants us to do in a situation or how he wants us to respond. Busy as He is, I sometimes suspect God feels a lonely God as He waits for our prayers. He longs to work with us so that He can bring peace and calm out of our storms. And as we communicate with Him and see Him in all His glorious majesty we reflect more of His restoring glory and offer hope into the broken, turbulent and stormy world in which we live.   Sam Cappleman

Lord, teach me to trust you in whatever situations I may find myself. Help me to pray, not just when my boat is sinking, but in all the times and places of my life where you can make a real difference. Help me with my family and friends to establish better relationships, in my place of work to allow you to inform the way I behave. Forgive me when I make you a stranger and walk with me always. Amen.

Lord, lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth. Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe. Amen

We pray for Northern Ireland. For political, Church and Community Leaders, and all who work for peace and reconciliation. For those who suffer because of violence and injustice. For those who use violence and induce hatred. Lord, grant that love may triumph and that your peace may prevail in the hearts of all people. Amen.