Prayers from your Pastors
in response to recent national events
I tuned in to watch the Joint Session of Congress yesterday afternoon, because I’m kind of a political “geek,” but mostly because I’m a proud American. I was obviously quite aware, therefore, when hell broke loose at our nation’s capital. I spent the afternoon locked to the images on the television, literally shaking several times, and immersed in fear for my country. In that spirit of consternation, I descended to my “cave” in our town house to convene my Wednesday evening Bible Study on Zoom, hoping that a change in focus might calm me a bit. It did.

After I ended the study, I walked back upstairs where Dara had continued to watch news coverage, and what I saw on the screen was the Joint Session of Congress back in session again, fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities. With often wavering voices, these brave souls carried on throughout the evening. When I saw that image, I cried. What is good about our country is our ability to draw together and “focus on fixing” after a crisis. What is good about the human spirit is that it can be courageous at those times when it would be easier to just hole up somewhere and lock the doors. In that moment at 8:30PM last night, I was proud of my country and thankful for our elected public servants. And I gave thanks to God, for I believe I see the handiwork of God in both my intrinsic need to reach out to others I love, and in our collective compulsion to reach out to each other, to comfort, find peace, and where necessary, organize in the face of such challenges.

Friends, Jesus told us he would be with us always, and never leave us “orphaned.” In these uncertain days, we need this Jesus, and we need each other. Peace to you all, Dear Ones.

Dear Lord, your presence is so welcome and your availability so necessary in our personal and national time of need! Calm our hearts, center our souls, and whisper in our ears those words of love, grace, pardon, and wisdom we so sorely need to hear. We are thankful that you never let the “powers that be” define you or your message. Soothe us, heal us, and send us, Lord, to live your message of hope. Let it take root in our hearts and bear fruit in our lives. In the matchless name of Jesus’ we pray. Amen.

Pastor Jeff
Beloved,

As I am trying to process and pray about where we are as a nation, I find myself drawn to the Gospel of John where Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:14-16).

Across America as well as across our congregation and across the world, it is easy to get caught up in our particular folds of political affiliation and lose track of the Good Shepherd’s voice. There are many voices bombarding us all of the time. But I have faith that the Good Shepherd is still speaking God’s peace. I have faith that the Good Shepherd is still speaking God’s truth. And I believe that if we listen for the voice of God’s peace and summon the courage to follow the call of God’s truth, our Good Shepherd will bring us together, call us out of our folds, to become one flock.

I would invite us to pause, breathe, and listen for God’s peace and God’s truth. And then I would invite us to pray Psalm 23 as an affirmation of faith and a commitment to follow the voice of our Good Shepherd:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
For you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Karen
When I was in seminary, I took a class on creation. The class, taught by Rev. Dr. Steve Tuell, was about creation mythology found within Scripture. One of the subjects that caught my attention was chaos. Chaos is the absence of order, it is ante-order. What we saw on the Capitol property was just that, chaos; it had no semblance of order at all. But God does not leave us in the chaos. We see time and time again God bringing order to chaos. After chaos there was creation. After the flood came a covenant. After Egypt came Exodus. After Babylon came restoration. After a storm on the sea came Jesus’ words, “Peace, be still.” After death came resurrection.  

In my work with Cure Violence and The Carter Center, I was taught to see violence as an epidemic. Just like any epidemic, the spread can be slowed. Stopping the spread involves being what they call ‘an interrupter.’ What that means is simply not answering violence (including verbal and online violence) with violence. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” My friends, chaos is scary, but we do not have to remain in it. We can be light, we can show love, and we can bring peace.  

Great and eternal God, in the midst of chaos we find ourselves afraid and we find ourselves struggling for words, but you know the power of words. With your words you created all that is. With your words you created covenants. With your words you spoke through the prophets. You sent Jesus, the Living Word. Give us the words of order to cast out chaos. Give us the words to lament. Give us the words to be interrupters. Give us the words to speak life to the hurting. Give us the words to share love. Give us the words of peace. Give us Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Chad J Bogdewic, STM