From the Back Porch
Worship never happens in a vacuum. Recall past & current events:
- Pearl Harbor
- JFK’s assassination
- Littleton, Colorado—our first 21 C. memorable mass shooting killing children
- Hurricane disasters
- Congressman Lewis’ last speech & Black Lives Matter
Sometimes the world intrudes into our life of common prayer in ways we feel it shouldn’t. At other times the world comes back to haunt us, reminding us that we should have let it intrude long ago; that our prayers and our hands have long needed to be directed to persons and places that we were blind to, or ignored.
So now we must bring into our houses of prayer not only the sufferings of an international pandemic but the questions it raises about us as God’s people and about what we are praying for when we say each week
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
What does it mean to pray for God’s will to be done and God’s reign to come on earth, in the wake of the infections, deaths, loss of jobs and homes, especially amongst the most vulnerable exposing the cracks of injustice in our ‘life together’ as The United States, as The Episcopal Church?
Violence is never redemptive—full stop. Redemption means countering violence with love, vengeance with compassion. The response of violence is so tempting and always has been, just ask Abel’s brother, Cain. The cross was to be the end of violence, not the beginning of a reign of violence, a never-ending cycle of injury-and-revenge. The cycle of violence is to be replaced by the circle of Christ’s friends at the foot of the cross, by those who saw God’s hand not in the breaking of bones but the breaking of bread in the community of love.
The ‘church’ must neither retreat in fear from engagement with God’s good creation, nor self-righteously indulge in finger-wagging moralism about what we think ‘caused’ tragedy and now must be done to ‘solve’ it. There is blame enough to go around, and nothing redemptive will come of tragic deaths and systemic unjustness until each of us sees God’s will in our own participation in a difference sort of future for the whole human family.
As the people of a crucified and risen Christ, let us “Repent, for the reign of heaven is at hand”—God’s reign which wishes to grace earth with peace, as it is in heaven. God’s will was done when God died on the cross that we on earth might love one another. Human law gives us the right to bear arms against our neighbor. In God’s kingdom we lay them down and learn another way. If we have ears, let us hear. NLJ+