Go in Peace: Week 1 | Day 6

When we worship, we can’t help but be changed. Br. James Koester discusses some of the moments in worship that have most changed him and urges us to “go” out into the world from our worship and bring the change with us.

Question: How are you going to be God’s hands in the world today?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Write a Letter to God

Transcript: I think it’s true to say that if you asked different brothers in the community why they came to the community, we would all give you slightly different answers.  But there would be one answer that we all share in common, and that is we came here to the monastery so that we can spend our time, or spend the majority of our time, in worship.  I think for us as brothers in the community, worship is one of the central identifying marks of our life.  We have come here so that we can worship God.  And worship is really central to our understanding of our self, and how we participate in God’s mission.

One of the things that we say in our rule is that our mission is inseparable from our call to live in union with God in prayer, worship, and mutual love.  So for us as brothers in the community, our understanding of the mission of God begins with worship, and who we are, and who we become through the act of worship.

There are a number of little key moments for me in our worship, which I think change us, and transform us.  One of those moments in the Eucharist, which change us, is the exchange of the peace – where, day by day by day, we say to one another, “Peace be with you,” or, “God’s peace be with you.”  And living as closely as we do with one another, there are many, many days where I actually would rather punch somebody out than exchange the peace with them.  That being forced day after day after day to exchange the peace with brother X – who I am bearing a grudge, or who I have had an argument with – actually begins to change my relationship with them so that I actually do begin to wish them God’s peace.

Another key moment for me is hearing and doing the words “Take, eat,” or “Drink this,” as we come to feast on Christ in the Eucharist.  And that constant feeding on Christ in the Eucharist changes us.  But for me the word that I get teased for the most because of how I say it when I’m presiding at the Eucharist is the word “go.”  And I often put the emphasis, I put a strong emphasis, on the word “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” and the brothers tease me about this.  But I think that word is really significant because if we come to worship, we can’t help but be changed by worship, and then we are sent out.  We are sent out on God’s mission into the world.

So I think it’s safe to say our understanding of our participation in the mission of the God is that it begins for us in worship, and it’s from worship that we are sent out to do God’s work, and participate in God’s mission.  And so, for us, we cannot separate our participation in the mission of God from our worship of God day by day in the Eucharist.  So one thing you might want to reflect on as you leave the Eucharist this week is how are you going to be God’s hands in the world today.

– Br. James Koester

Question: How are you going to be God’s hands in the world today?

1-letterfromgodWeek 1 Activity: Write a Letter to God
Slowly writing out our words of love for another person can be a meditative practice that connects us in a deep way. This week, spend some time hand-writing a letter to God.  What would you say? How might you express your love for God in words?

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity


  1. Rhode on March 30, 2019 at 10:41

    It is good to revisit the 5 Marks of God and to view again where my heart was 2 years ago.
    Many changes have happened, too many to list and mostly for good. God be praised. I am still convinced that everything we do if done in Jesus name will somehow have its’ blessing. If my hands work for the love of God – and not to glory in my own self-worth – God will be glorified. The question I ask myself is What is God’s purpose in glorifying Himself by my hands? I found this in a blog by John Piper and I would like to share it as it is helping to answer my question.
    ” I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we’re created in his image, and we’re trusting his promises so that we make him look gloriously trustworthy. “
    Jesus thought God’s Glory important enough to address, as does all scripture, so it must be really important. By sharing His love even the simple act of a cup of cold water in His name worships God first and foremost. Today I go in peace to be and do stuff in His holy name. Shalom and Aloha.

  2. Jessie Mantle on March 7, 2017 at 18:29

    Today I am going to take time to listen to someone who talks to. Me wherever I meet them. I will not let my agenda get in the way of focusing on another. The part of the Eucharistic worship that I moves me every time I hear it is when I hear the phrase: “But thou art the same Lord, Whose property is always to have Mercy.” I struggle to learn mercy for all those with whom I disagree, don’t like, who irritate me – those who push my buttons for whatever reason.. I am not worthy but this phrase helps me to see that in the eyes of Jesus, I am worthy. Jessie

  3. Ruth West on March 7, 2017 at 14:42

    I have learned that God impresses me with new ways to serve and respond to others, even though I committed my life to Him at a very young age and now I am old. Lately, I have prayed on the phone with a mentally ill friend, who calls me often. I have little training about how to deal with the mentally ill person, but , through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I respond the best I can to the need expressed at the time. Sometimes I feel a little angry and impatient with him.
    Prayer seems to be so consoling and satisfying to him and to me. I pray that I can be led to help him in some significant way. Thanks for your good homily.

  4. Beth Redmond on March 5, 2017 at 08:51

    Well, today I hope that I can in some small way practice the love of God by being fully present at a demonstration to protect the rights of very vulnerable young people.

    • Jolene on March 5, 2017 at 20:24

      Thanks for being God’s hand on earth, Beth!

  5. jolene on March 4, 2017 at 21:41

    I’m not answering the question posed by br. james, but as i was watching his video, i was thinking about the baptismal covenant. after the creed, the first two questions feel worship-focused (apostles teaching and fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers; repent and return) while the last three questions feel missional (proclaiming the good news, seek and serve christ in all persons, striving for peace and justice). whether intentional or not, it seems to fit today’s reflection.

  6. Kristi on March 4, 2017 at 05:54

    I consider myself a very peaceful person and love the part of the Eucharist that says “go in peace to love & serve the Lord”. When I say those words each week I do try to be conscious and mindful of having a peaceful mind set in my dealings with people in my life. It’s very hard to do but I thrive on being helpful to others. I ask myself how I can be a better person, mother, friend, wife and daughter? At times I succeed but then other days I flounder and feel deeply flawed and selfish. My intention is always to live in an atmosphere of peace. It’s not always achievable but it’s something I can renew every time I say the words during the Eucharist that’s like a promise to myself.

  7. Verlinda on March 3, 2017 at 23:21

    Being God’s hands today involved reaching out to lift up a student member of our mentoring group so she would have the confidence to present our team’s discussion results to the entire group of business leaders and fellow students.

  8. Stan on March 3, 2017 at 22:40

    I have given up trying to ascertain what God has in store for me, because I simply can’t figure it out. But it really doesn’t work that way, anyway. I have come to the realization that my “Godliest” works, most of the time, actually find me, rather than me seeking them out. Giving attention, respect, and and friendly consideration to other people, even people you just meet at random encounters, can really make a difference. And how you respond to the situation can often actually change person’s life … even if it’s just in a tiny way … many tiny bits of help can add up to something big after a while.

  9. Heath on March 3, 2017 at 22:22

    When I think about how I’m going to be God’s hands in the world today, I think about the talents that I have to do God’s work that I don’t know I have. Those are the ones that I can’t brag or boost about. Often when you don’t know you are doing God’s work is when you are making the most impact.

  10. Susan on March 3, 2017 at 22:12

    I read the prayers daily and read the comments and I feel I’m not really expressing myself like I should. I am having a hard time writing my feelings down. Dear Lord give me guidance and strength, that I pray daily, help me open my heart and to those I have closed it too. Pray for me.

  11. Anne on March 3, 2017 at 20:53

    How I will be God’s hands in the world today…is in His hands.

  12. Fay Jones on March 3, 2017 at 20:19

    I totally agree with you on the importance of the word “go” … as we ask God in our closing prayer after Rite II (and I stand for this prayer because of what it says!) – Send us now into the world in peace …

    Eternal God, heavenly Father,
    you have graciously accepted us as living members
    of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
    and you have fed us with spiritual food
    in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
    Send us now into the world in peace,
    and grant us strength and courage
    to love and serve you
    with gladness and singleness of heart;
    through Christ our Lord. Amen.

  13. Pam on March 3, 2017 at 19:39

    A few years ago at an SSJE retreat, we were asked to think of something we wanted God to do for us. As everyone must, I had lots of family issues in mind: For example, may the grandchild who was about to be born have good health, may one of my sons who is in recovery remain so. None of them seemed right, althought all of them seemed worthy. Finally, I realized my deepest desire: I wanted to be a blessing to God. God told me that weekend that I am already a blessing to him. Yet that is still what motivates me during the week. I try to remain open to whomever God puts in my path and be able to respond to that person in love. So, it really varies from week to week, but I still wish so much to be a blessing to God, however that gets expressed, and it always seems to be different.

    • jolene on March 4, 2017 at 21:34

      This is beautiful, Pam! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  14. Karen Hoppock on March 3, 2017 at 17:16

    I pray for a calm and peaceful mind, a loving heart, and healthy loving choices in every situation; a tall order on some days and with some people. I know God’s wisdom has been planted in the Garden in my heart; my challenge is to consistently seek, search to see, and then to heed God’s wisdom with healthy boundaries always

  15. Margaret Dungan on March 3, 2017 at 16:00

    I find it difficult to point to the most important part of the Service because special moments come at different times but always special every day is ‘the Lords Prayer”
    and the “Collect” for Purity at the beginning of the service..
    It is like an open door to everything that follows.


  16. Lisa on March 3, 2017 at 14:42

    There are two ways in which I am literally using my hands to be God’s hands. Since December, I have been knitting woolen mittens in various sizes. My goal is to have over one hundred adult-sized pairs and twenty child-sized pairs available for the homeless who come to the Thanksgiving meal prepared cooperatively by our church and another local church. I have also just volunteered to become a member of our church’s bread baker guild, learning how to bake the bread used for Eucharist on Sundays and on Wednesdays, which is when our day school celebrates Eucharist. Both of these actions help me see God and extend His goodness through small things.

  17. Laura Canon on March 3, 2017 at 13:49

    This is a bit of a challenge because I work a regular 9 to 5 job. Yet I like it very much. It’s at a university — I like the students, and I like the idea that I am playing a small role in their education to become doctors and health professionals. So today it has meant sitting through a meeting on upgrading our room reservation software, and then using another type of software to assign students to lab, as well as fixing other various office issues. These are very mundane things. But if I do them well, it helps the larger body. So in this way (I hope) I am doing God’s work.

  18. Heather on March 3, 2017 at 11:33

    I am loving these reflections. They are spoken in the language of humans as spiritual beings, with real application to the discipline I am seeking this Lent. Comforting to me is that you said, “there are many, many days where I actually would rather punch somebody out than exchange the peace with them.” It reminds me that I am not perfect and that even very spiritual beings of God (living in a monastery!) have their moments of hardship. Thank you!

  19. Laura on March 3, 2017 at 11:17

    Today, his hands are directing me to assist a mother who lost her son to cancer at the age of 35. What can my hands do to decrease the pain of loss? I do not have the answer, but listening to God, I am sure his will, will be reveal.
    The most enjoyable part of the service is the actually end, when the priest says’ Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel this way with us, be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.’ I am challenge daily to live by those powerful words.

  20. Stan Lewis on March 3, 2017 at 10:29

    First, I must see everything with my heart–through the eyes of the Creator. Once I can do that, then my hands will be His hands, and I can do his will.

  21. Bryan Cook on March 3, 2017 at 09:42

    Thank You Brother James. It is refreshing and grounding that the Brothers sometimes don’t like each other, argue, have spats and tease each other! I hope they say the serenity prayer in those moments as well as peace be with you! At our Ash Wednesday service we were given ashes, a stone, the sign of the Cross and annointed with oil. A tool kit from which to build spiritually and practically over this Lenten journey towards goals of Peace, Sharing, and Doing God’s Will…..I WILL GO in PEACE. Amen

  22. Christina on March 3, 2017 at 09:38

    So far, this morning, God hasn’t whispered to me what he would wish for me to do. He has, in the past, and it will happen again. There are always opportunities.
    The most important point in the worship service? For me the delivery of the scripture. The congregation rises: many continue to read the written Word, but I find that I have closed my eyes and listen to the Word being given to me, yet again.
    Blessings. Christina

  23. John Crenson on March 3, 2017 at 08:27

    God we presume 2 come 2 u when things seem bad. Let us learn to express our thankfulness 2 u when things are going well.

  24. Eugenie Drayton on March 3, 2017 at 08:10

    My most recent discovery since moving back East was my call to be with people who are in the hospital. I went through my units of CPE and will go for board certification this month. I’m that person either the hospital or hospice calls when they need a chaplain or when the hospice chaplain needs help to add time time there.

    Just as I feel God’s presence when I receive the bread and wine or sing the choir anthem, sitting with people and their families is a holy experience to me. The blessings I feel are transformational, and exhausting, but to be God’s conduit to share God’s love, regardless of where they are in their journey, it sometimes beyond words.

    Each week I look forward to serving God in this way, whether it’s a few hours volunteering at the hospital, or filling in for palliative care and hospice.

  25. Rhode on March 3, 2017 at 07:02

    Our vacation to Hawaii was filled with Aloha. We had thought Aloha was just another hello. But residents use it to mean goodness, grace, peace, goodbye, belonging, sharing, acts of kindness….being filled wth Aloha, be the Aloha etc
    My husband, who is Jewish, was pleased to find a word close to the meaning of Shalom. Aloha means not beeping your horn at intersections, picking up hitchikers, extending your discount, letting someone go before you, purposefully
    being gentle and at peace with everyone. We were the recipients of quite a few acts of Aloha. It made us want to do the same. Jesus asks us as much as it is possible to be at peace with everyone, to be filled with the Aloha of his love…we were not expecting this touristy state to show us what that would look like…Back in cold CT…am trying to extend the Aloha. Shalom.

  26. Fr John E Harris-White on March 3, 2017 at 03:53

    James, Tank you.

    I come alongside you at the Peace. I laughed because at present I continue to go to a weekday Mass, in spite of being angry at the way h priest prays the Mass. Praying assay Peace will override Thank anger..

    The Go of go in Peace is so important. I was always teased for shouting at the marriage service, Those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

    Thank you for this course.

    Fr John
    West Lothian

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