Dear <<First Name>>,
A week ago, as a violent riot ripped through our Capitol building, I shared the following with you via our parish Facebook page: "I join you in feelings of alarm and dismay watching the chaos and violence unfolding at the Capitol. Like you, my prayer is for peace and forbearance there and in all our land, for the peaceful transition of power as has been the hallmark of our nation's long history, and for a spirit of unity as we move forward in a new year with new leaders at all levels of our government."
A week has passed and yet the threat of continued violence and the disruption of our common life remains. Like you, I have spent a fair amount of time consumed with sadness, frustration, and anger at this violence, the embrace of conspiracy, and the overt claims through word and symbol for white supremacy. Last week we saw Confederate flags, nooses, and signs and messages embracing the Holocaust parading with the mob through the halls of Congress. Worse still, for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus, were the numerous supposed Christian messages lumped in with the rest. "Jesus Saves" read one banner. Another individual carried a cross. Let me be very clear: affiliating the message and teachings of Jesus with the mob insurrection of last week, connecting the power of Christ's saving love with the power of violence and white supremacy is nothing short of heresy and idolatry.
The response from the church then must not be denial (i.e. "That's not who we are") and it cannot be to join some kind of counter mob, matching force with force. Our task in confronting heresy and idolatry is to speak truth, practice love for the vulnerable and the downtrodden, to proclaim Christ crucified and risen, and to make the Way of Jesus, the Way of Love, evident in our lives and witness. So, as a first step, I invite each of you to continue to pray. As our bishop reminded us last week our task as Christians is to recognize that God is God and we are not, to pray in humility for the safety of our nation, for peace, and for our enemies as much as ourselves.
Opportunities to gather for prayer:
- At Morning Prayer between now and Inauguration Day on January 20, we will be saying prayers for Peace. You can view Morning Prayer at 8am daily, Monday-Saturday, on our parish Facebook page.
- We will also be saying prayers for Peace in our Sunday worship, which you can view at 10am this Sunday via our YouTube channel.
- In the afternoons from now until the 19th, at 4pm Central Time, the National Cathedral will be offering "Prayers for our Nation". You can find those at the Cathedral's website.
- At 8:30am on Inauguration Day, the Bishop, Missioners, and Episcopalians across Minnesota will hold a service of Morning Prayer. Register for the Zoom link here or watch a livestream on the ECMN Facebook page.
- Finally, at noon on Inauguration Day, I will be offering Noonday Prayers with Prayers for Peace following the Inauguration via our Facebook page.
Prayer is but one piece of our response in these troubled times. But it is an important part of our ongoing formation as disciples of Jesus and followers of the Way of Love. Our call now is to resist the siren song of vengeance, violence, and power, and to live more fully into the life and witness of Jesus, who emptied himself of power and came among us as one who healed the sick, spoke out for the vulnerable, and demanded justice for the widow, the orphan, and the poor.
I'll see you in worship.