Monday, January 16, 2017

Praying for Our President

When it comes to elections, many believed, that Donald J. Trump would never be elected President of the United States.  I count myself among them.  I cited polls, demographics, and controversies and then discounted the possibility.  Let me clear: this is not; I believe a partisan or judgment statement.  Many from both sides of the aisle did not expect the final results.  I was as surprised as many others living conformably in my bubble on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. 

But here we are.  The week of the inauguration of a new President, the most powerful person in the world today.  I have not spoken out on the election directly, because I want to honor the tradition and law that churches and preachers should not get into the direct support of political candidates.  I want to honor other peoples’ political views, especially from the pulpit meant to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.

And I want to honor the particularly American form of democracy and our church’s support of it.  We, in our Book of Common Prayer, pray for the President of the United States and other national and state leaders.  Pray that our leaders make right decision, uphold our laws and be defenders of justice.  

At the same time, I want to acknowledge the real anxiety, fear, and concern that many people feel – especially those who have opened up to me.  We are in unchartered waters.   

We need prayer, which is at its core, our openness to the presence of God in our lives.  We need God to help us now and always.

Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has written this week: “We can and, indeed, I believe we must pray for all who lead in our civic order, nationally and internationally. I pray for the president in part because Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord.  If Jesus is my Lord and the model and guide for my life, his way must be my way, however difficult. And the way of prayer for others is a part of how I follow the way of Jesus.” 

The Apostle Paul, in his opening words to the church in Corinth, wrote: “God will strengthen you to the end.”  (1 Corinthians 1) We need strength in our daily lives.  Strength to get up on the morning, embrace a new day, confront challenges in our work and in our studies, cope with illness, and strength to care for those we love.  Strength to be people of light and hope in a broken world. 

And, perhaps most importantly, Paul adds: God is faithful. 

We think of faith as something we possess.  Being faithful is the object of religion after all.  We have faith, belief, in God.  It is our part of the covenant and the creed.  We believe in One God, the Father, the Almighty. 

Paul turns this around and reminds us that God is faithful.  God believed in us long before we believed in God.  Yes, beginning when we were in our mother’s womb.

God is faithful, which allows us get cultivate, feel, test and increase our faith. 

So get ready: we will and should pray for Donald our President, just as we prayed for Barack, and George, Bill, Ronald and Jimmy.  Not the President, but our President, as the Book of Common Prayer suggests.  At least that is the commitment we make to one another living in community.

Will that be hard for some?  I’m sure it will, just as it was for those with different political views to pray for whoever was President at the time.  And remember: God is faithful.

And in the days ahead some may conclude that prayer is good and solid starting point, but not enough and the only thing we can do.  Christians are called to live out their prayers in faith and action.  To feed the hungry, visit the sick, cloth the naked, visit the sick and those who have lost their freedom, and much more.

There are moments when following Christ means we are called to act, speak out and organize.  The point of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a national holiday is to commemorate a man who did not believe that his faith stopped at the walls of the church he led.  He is after all the only ordained preacher to be honored with a holiday.  King was enraged by racial discrimination and segregation in this country.  He cared about the lives of every day workers, which brought him to Memphis on the fateful day in 1968.   And lest we forget, he spoke out against the Viet Nam War to the chagrin of some supporters who had hoped that he would stay in his lane. 

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