Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Published in The Fiji Times, Wednesday 6th January, 2010

Happy New Year!

As we approach the end of the first week of 2010, many of us are already struggling to maintain our New Year’s resolutions. This year instead of making a “resolution”, I have decided to go with instead, an “affirmation” to submit to the divine plan of God. From a Christian scriptural perspective this can be found in the Letter of James (the saint, not the fellah writing this article): "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7).

2010 will be another year of challenges for Fiji, but I also sense it will be a year of opportunities in terms of peace-building and replacing the climate of fear (within all leadership structures) with the unconditional love that allows us to be free to manifest God's will in our lives and recognise the other as part of the one. This may happen easily for those who are prepared to do so, but I also recognise that it may be a difficult and painful process for many.

I would like to share with you two prayers which have given me peace and courage to face the future without the fear of the unknown. The first is by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). It has inspired countless people seeking peace and strength in times struggle, despair, and uncertainty since it was first written:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

I have read that the intention of the Serenity Prayer is to bring peace, faith, and certainty to the mind and heart of those seeking God's support. It asks God for the wisdom and ability to gracefully accept "what is," (what cannot be changed) and for the willingness to manifest, with God's support, that which is in one's highest good. (Courage to change the things which should be changed).

The Serenity Prayer was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and has also been used in Narcotics Anonymous and other Twelve-step programs. It has also been use by well-known singers, songwriters, and artists such as Neil Young; Whitney Houston; the 70's rock group, Boston; Sinéad O'Connor, the once famous bald singer of the 1990s and even well-known rapper, 50 Cent raps the first two lines of the serenity prayer in his song, Gotta Make It To Heaven.

The second prayer is a well-known prayer by the 13th Century saint, Francis of Assisi. The last time I heard it used was Ratu Epeli Nailatikau’s prayer of dedication when he was sworn in as Fiji’s 4th President last year. I have been told that the late Tui Nayau and former Prime Minister and former President of Fiji, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara also used it as his prayer of dedication.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis' prayer is a bold one, asking for strength to give of ourselves to meet the needs of others. He recognises that it "is in giving that we receive", that as we give of ourselves, we receive the peace and blessing of the Christ.

As you begin the journey through this year and as you face situations that require peace, consolation, hope, light, I encourage you to pray these prayers, to use these positive affirmations. Pray them; share them; and live them. This year let us be instruments of positivity and peace.

This article is the opinion of Reverend James Bhagwan and does not necessarily represent the views of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, any other organisation or institution Padre Bhagwan is affiliated with or this newspaper.
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