Grant grace, Lord, as I enter your house
to share your Word with your people.
Not my house; not my word; not my people.
I may challenge them,
but will not change them.
I may warn them,
but will not frighten them.
I may comfort them,
but the cool wind that refreshes them will not be of my making.
I care about their souls,
but I do not own them.
Body and soul, in life and in death,
they belong to you, not to me.
Guard me from the burdensome pretense
of thinking that their spiritual health depends
on my managerial alacrity,
on my entrepreneurial imagination,
on my therapeutic intervention.
I walk the same cork aisles that they walk.
My prayers echo against the same stone walls as theirs.
We are here, together.
I will neither convince nor cajole nor connive them into your kingdom.
So, give me the grace of loving these who are so beloved to you:
the easy-to-love ones who listen so attentively to my dazzling eloquence;
the not-so-easy-to-love ones who are entrapped by their own self-centeredness;
the sleepy ones who nap through sermons;
the bored ones who can't wait to get home to the television.
Grant me the grace of loving them,
as they have so graciously loved me,
that in loving and being loved we might
together taste the sweet fruit of your Spirit.
Rev. Paul G. Janssen is the Pastor and Teacher of Pascack Reformed Church in Park Ridge, New Jersey, which he has served since 1991.