ELM Lenten Devotional: Aaron Musser

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A World Made New
Inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:17
By: Aaron Musser
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away. Look! Everything has become new! – 2 Corinthians 5:17
When I read this week’s epistle text, words from a choral piece by Abbie Betinis rang in my head: “Show us a vision of the world made new.” The piece, titled The World Made New, combines the text of the Lord’s Prayer with what is commonly called “Eleanor Roosevelt’s Prayer”  – a prayer Eleanor Roosevelt heard in March 1940 at St. John’s Episocpal Church in Washington, DC which left such an impression on her that she recorded it in her regular newspaper column.
Betinis’s choral arrangement concludes with a lively and buoyant motor to the text “the world made new” and a soaring melody to the text “show us a vision of the world made new.” It’s light and catchy, an earworm that I’m reminded of easily; as I read today’s lectionary text, it’s the first thing I think of.
But as I look at the rest of Eleanor Roosevelt’s prayer, three petitions stand out in particular – petitions that, at a time like this, I ought to pray myself.
First: Set our eyes on far-off goals. Even when those goals don’t seem like they should be far-off. Even when unanticipated obstacles get in the way.
Second: Keep us at tasks too hard for us. Even when those tasks are deferred and resisted by powers-that-be. Even when faced with legislation and discourse that does nothing but dehumanize.
Third: Show us a vision of world made new. Even when we aren’t sure if “a world made new” is possible. Even when our ability to cast new visions is exhausted.
Indeed, these three petitions stand out most to me at this moment, a moment of crises (plural) at our doorstep. A prayer, over 80 years old, continues to resonate.
May we be blessed with far-off goals. May our work on hard tasks bear good fruit. May God’s vision of a world made new pour into our communities, our nation, and our world. Amen.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Evening Prayer:
Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts, and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content, and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us, that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pity; make us sure of the goal we cannot see, and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us, and our hearts to the loveliness people hide from us because we do not try enough to understand them. Save us from ourselves, and show us a vision of the world made new. May Thy spirit of peace and illumination so enlighten our minds that all life shall glow with new meaning and new purpose; through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Aaron Musser (he/him) is a second-year MDiv student pursuing ordination in Word and Sacrament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Before seminary he served in Milwaukee, WI as a church musician and music educator. He finds joy in natural things, in queer performance art, in beautiful music, and in cherry chocolate chip ice cream.

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