A Pastoral Word and Prayer from Our Moderator and Vice Moderator of the Presbytery

Wednesday was, as many commentators have noted, a day that will live in infamy.  Our collective hearts broke as we watched the violence unfold, listened to hateful rhetoric spewed, worried that this act of sedition might be enough finally to break our fragile democracy.

With grateful hearts, we see the United States is, for the moment, still standing.  But the division that has been fomented in these last few decades, the division that reached an ugly crescendo on January 6th, will still be with us.  Sibling has been pitted against sibling, households have been divided, and friendships forever tarnished.  Most heartbreaking to those of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is the use of his name, flying on banners and cried out as a rallying call, to incite hatred and violence.

It is too easy to dismiss the scenes of the last 24 hours as the misdirected activities of a few. More difficult and more necessary is the self-examination of our own words, actions or lack of action. How have we contributed consciously or unconsciously to the emotions and discord that we saw on display?  The sin of white supremacy has gone largely un-checked in the Church, leaving those who identify as nationalists to use Jesus’ name with impunity.  We have created and/or allowed a dangerous mix of racism, patriotism, and Christianity to brew in our midst.

The anger and frustration we saw climb the Capitol steps and flow into our halls of Congress yesterday will not end with a new administration. Have we finally reached a tipping point where we come to grip with the realities of our political division? Do these events embolden us to seek areas of agreement and joint action for the common good, particularly as we seek to identify and center long-marginalized voices in our community?

We have just exited the celebration of Emmanuel, God with us – we are a people of faith who believe in a living God who is with us; a God who calls us to reflection and prayer as well as compassion and action.  We are indeed called to be repairers of the breach – a reparation that will require confession, lament, and sacrifice before we reach reconciliation.  Our eyes have been opened to our brokenness and to the sacredness that binds us together.  God with us and God in us – both those with whom we agree, and those with whom we disagree.

For the sake of the Gospel and the sake of the world, we must stand together in love now more than ever.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, let us not hide in the extremes but, instead, seek to find the truth that only comes from you. Let us focus on those principles that unite us and work through the issues that seek to separate us. Out of adversity, you will create unity; out of frustration, you will create satisfaction; out of anger, you will create reconciliation; out of uncertainty, you create a vision of the future. You, Lord, create power from powerlessness. Move us from isolation to a recognition of the power of community, a true love for neighbor that brings us closer to the Kindom you envision for us.  In Christ’s name, Amen.